Chartwells: Best thing since sliced bread? | NevadaAppeal.com

Chartwells: Best thing since sliced bread?

Aly Lawson | alawson@lahontanvalleynews.com
From left, fourth-graders Isaiah White, Alejandro Chavira and Kekoa Ninoa enjoy eating lunch together in the Numa Elementary cafeteria. "It's the best food ever!" White said.
Aly Lawson / LVN |

Churchill County School District’s new meal provider this school year is Chartwells, the world’s largest contract food service provider.

“They say it’s a better menu than last year,” said Sierra Chaplin-Winter, a Numa Elementary fourth-grader, and that makes her want to try it.

Dr. Sandra Sheldon, superintendent of schools, said before the district had a lot of frozen food that would be heated up, but now the food is “scratch-made and much more palatable.”

The district would like to increase the amount of students eating school meals and staying on campus, especially the free breakfast offered to elementary students.

Breakfast and lunch are served at all schools with free breakfast for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. School menus, food photos and the corresponding nutritional and dietary information are available through the district website (www.churchill.k12.nv.us) and free Nutrislice app.

Sheldon explained how the program continues to monitor salt and sugar amounts as well as offer more whole wheat in addition to salad and fruit bars; their even working to balance healthy and tasty options. Chartwells also has a color-coded number system that helps inform students how to make their selections.

The elementary schools’ Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program brings healthy snacks into the classroom two days a week, equipping teachers with a snack-centered educational program. Some of the produce being used include broccoli florets, purple cauliflower, Asian pears, King David apples, baby kiwi and pineapple spears. Raw baby corn was a surprising hit, Sheldon said.

Mark Harrison, district director of Dining Services, said his staff and the people of Fallon have been fantastic. He said he’s open to ideas and wants the program to continue to expand and streamline the menu to see what isn’t working, what could be new popular items and what other districts are doing.

“It’s much better, and we’d like to keep growing,” Sheldon said. “Mark always has good ideas.” She added they’ve tried to improve the school lunch line effect too, serving meals in waves that keep things moving and improving cafeteria atmospheres to feel more like eateries and promote conversation.

The high school is updating their cafeteria, featuring round tables, adjusting the layout and art as well as hoping to offer an espresso station in the morning, smoothie station, panini station and soft serve machine that would go between the middle and high schools each Christmas. Dining Services is also looking to enhance their healthy à la carte options, add more hot sandwiches and bump up the fresh-made pizzas as students have been liking this option.

Numa Elementary fourth-graders Alejandro Chavira and Isaiah White only had good things to say about their school’s food.

“It’s the bomb!” Chavira said.

They went back and forth saying how the school had corn dogs, yogurt, even chocolate muffins at breakfast.

“It’s the best thing ever,” White said. “They have everything.”

Parents are encouraged to participate in meal times, and recipes may be submitted to Chartwells. Visit the district website for more information including meal costs.

CCSD is participating in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program and After School Snack Program.

“They see me eating something they’ve never had before,” said Shawn Purrell, Numa Elementary principal, of the new program helping students have a more well-rounded diet. “They want to try it. They see it’s important in this life to try something new.”