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Cafeterias strive to keep students healthy

By By Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Umm, good!
Such a reaction comes easily for F.E. Burleson Elementary School students as they catch the smell of homemade yeast rolls baking in the ovens with lunchtime soon to come.
But that’s not all their taste buds will savor when they sit down in the cafeteria to eat.
They’ll be able to fill their trays with two of five vegetables and one of the two meats at the hot bar, their choice of several items on the cold bar, including fruit, salad and ice cream and one of many oven-baked snacks.
Cafeteria menus are planned a month in advance by the school system’s nutritionist, Joan Grantland, and a copy goes out to the parents of each child.
In addition to Foster, the Burleson cafeteria staff consists of Linda Byford, Doris Blankenship, Jeanette Naylor, all full-time employees, and Christy Wiley, a part-time employee. All have Serve-Safe certificates and keep them up-to-date by participating in two days of In-Service Education classes each year.
On average, they feed 350 at lunch and 160 at breakfast.
To maintain a safe and clean environment and prevent the spread of germs, the cafeteria is wiped down and sanitized twice a day. Wellness goals, embraced by the staff, are also in place as an extra measure of protection. They include: All persons handling food must wear gloves and change them often; Any food that can be wrapped will be wrapped in individual portions to minimize exposure from hands; Cafeteria personnel will serve any item that cannot be protected from hand contact; Personnel will wipe tables between serving classes with a Clorox-water mix; Notify the school nurse if any child seems to be ill; stay home if you are ill.
Consistently, the cafeteria scores high grades (97-plus) on periodic inspections conducted by the State Health Department. Last month the grade was 98; it was 100 in May.
Each student’s tray of food is also screened on the cashier’s monitor to ensure that it is safe for the student to eat. For example, if a student is allergic to peanut butter and that information has been entered in the computer, a red flag will pop up if that student appears in front of the cashier with a food item that contains peanut butter.
Of the two meals served, breakfast gets the nod from students that arrive at school hungry.
They have a choice of four items: pop tarts, cereal, French toast, sausage and biscuit and occasionally biscuit and gravy.