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Feeding School Children? Take Your Time and Do It Right

For the past seven years, Lynda Carville and her staff in the Baton Rouge Roman Catholic Diocese Child Nutrition Program have carefully and systematically put together one of the finest school lunch programs in the country. USDA's School Nutrition Program provides vital assistance in defraying the cost for the program, but it is the commitment and caring of Mrs. Carville and her staff of 190 that make the difference.

Each day, three choices of meals are provided with lunch and are cooked fresh daily by the staff. Options include Gumbo and Red Beans and Rice. Anytime a new menu item is added, chefs from local restaurants donate their time to train the staff on how to prepare the dish. The Baton Rouge Roman Catholic Diocese includes seven parishes, 28 schools, and 11,000 students who are fed daily. The school lunch program is complimented by commitments from the schools and teachers. For example, one of the schools has its own garden and is developing a gardening curriculum as part of their science class. There are plans for more gardens at other schools based on the success of the first one. The secret of their success appears to come principally from two sources: widespread support for the program from the Bishops down to the parents, many of whom volunteer their time to support the program, and the three-phase training program put together by Mrs. Carville and her staff with support from the State Department of Education. Three of the twenty-eight schools have earned "Gold Award" status from USDA's HealthierUS School Challenge. It is Mrs. Carville's intention to have every school in the Diocese that is eligible eventually earn the Gold Award.