Before the sun rises, Durham Public Schools Nutrition Services employees are hard at work preparing more than 5,000 lunches that will be distributed to 92 summer meals sites across the county. Jim Keaton, director of Child Nutrition Services for Durham Public Schools, runs the summer meals program to bring nutritious meals to students even when school is not in session.
Inside the cafeteria and kitchen at WG Pearson Elementary School, ingredients are delivered, prepared, counted, assembled into coolers, and labeled with the summer meals site name. School nutrition employees who staff the cafeterias when school is in session are hired for the summer to continue preparing food for the summer meals program.
“It’s probably about a 1 to 1 ratio of summer meals sites to employees,” Keaton said. “And, if the site is based out of a school cafeteria, we also provide them with servers.”
Eight employees who work as bus drivers during the school year deliver breakfast to the summer meals sites in the morning, pick up the leftover food, and then make a second round of deliveries for lunch in the afternoon.
The entree on the day Keaton gave the tour was a turkey sandwich on a whole grain roll. After these were packaged up and are ready for send-off, the cafeteria workers began preparing pizza dough for tomorrow’s meal.
Keaton emphasized that he tries to offer foods that children enjoy, within the nutritional standards and budget. Popular items include whole grain Rice Krispie Treats, unsweetened applesauce, Dole Pears and NutriGrain bars.
Most of the summer meals sites run by the Durham Public Schools serve both breakfast and lunch at no-cost to students under 18 years old. To find your closest summer meals site, use this resource.