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Burke County Board of Education Chairman Randy Burns (center) samples one of the new blue raspberry fruit juice slushies from Chartwells along with students at East Burke High School.

Convening for the first time since Dec. 13, the Burke County Board of Education gathered at the Olive Hill Resource Center late Monday for its regularly scheduled work session.

At the session, the board received a quarterly child nutrition program update from Aaron Probst of Chartwells.

Several new menu items have been introduced in Burke County Public Schools, most notably blue raspberry slushies at the four high schools. Chartwells let students taste test the slushies, which are 100 percent fruit juice, in November. Feedback was highly positive, so the product will be available at Draughn, East Burke, Freedom and Patton high schools for $1.25.

“I think it was well-received,” Probst told the board. “We actually started serving it this past week in all four high schools. We’ve done pretty good numbers so far. On the first day of service Friday, at Draughn High School we served 40, at Freedom we served 37, at Patton we served 30 and at East Burke we served 21.

“It’s an alternative for students. It’s something exciting and something to make them look forward to lunch.”

Other new menu options introduced recently have included chicken and waffles with spiced apples at high schools and “The Dog 8 My Biscuit,” a hot dog wrapped in a biscuit and sprinkled with parmesan cheese, at elementary schools.

“We generated some excitement with that,” Probst said.

Chartwells also has experimented with some chicken sandwich options, including crispy, grilled, Nashville hot and teriyaki. The sandwich options recently were featured in a weeklong promotion in the high schools the week before exams. Last week, the sandwiches were available in middle schools and will be tested in elementary schools soon, Probst said.

“They’re definitely a program-driver for us,” Probst said, noting that the slightly higher cost of the chicken patties likely will limit service of the sandwiches to once per month in elementary and middle schools.

At local elementary schools, recent “Tasty Tuesdays” have featured taste tests of local produce items, including acorn squash in November, carnival cauliflower in December and Cara Cara oranges this month. Next up, Probst said, will be yam chips.

BCPS and Chartwells also recently learned it earned second place in the N.C. Crunch contest. BCPS entered its program where it promoted North Carolina apples during Farm to School Month in October. According to information from BCPS, the N.C. Farm to School Cooperative, a group of farmers who sell produce to N.C. schools through the N.C. Farm to School program, sponsored the contest.

And Angela Hensley, foodservice management coordinator for BCPS, announced to the board that after the school system won three awards last school year in the No Kid Hungry Breakfast Challenge, it recently found out it won two more awards for Table Rock and Walter Johnson middle schools for participation levels in its second-chance breakfast program.

The child nutrition update and field trip requests were moved to the consent agenda for next Monday’s regular school board meeting.

Justin Epley can be reached at jepley@morganton.com or 828-432-8943.

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