Schools Earn State Honors for Healthy Meals During Pandemic

The CCS Nutrition Department provided healthy bagged lunches for students during virtual learning. Photo by Erin Edgerton / Daily Progress

Charlottesville City Schools received top honors this week in a statewide competition recognizing school divisions that address childhood hunger and provide “healthier, more nutritious school meals.”

The 2021 Virginia School Board Association (VSBA) Food for Thought Competition named Charlottesville City Schools the winner of the Healthy School Meals category for divisions of 10,000 pupils or less.

The award honored the school division’s recent efforts, which include a commitment to purchasing local and cooking from scratch when possible. A partnership with the nonprofit Cultivate Charlottesville has been key, with outcomes such as the schools’ Harvest of the Month Program, youth-led outreach, and improved access to fresh meals. VSBA also recognized how the division adapted to serve meals during the pandemic via serving stations and bus routes throughout the community, services which continued for virtual students even after the schools reopened in the spring.

Carlton Jones, Coordinator of Nutrition for the city schools, accepted the award at a virtual ceremony on Tuesday. He highlighted the efforts of his team, including Sandra Vazquez, Coordinator of Nutrition, school nutrition managers and staff. He also thanked community partner Cultivate Charlottesville, the School Board, City Council and all school staff and volunteers.

“I want to thank the entire community for supporting us during this pandemic and during some of these tough times,” Jones said.

Acting superintendent Jim Henderson congratulated the department and its leaders, noting “The nutrition team’s work is foundational to our work teaching children. We thank you for your dedication, your flexibility, and your commitment.”

“The nutrition team’s work is foundational to our work teaching children. We thank you for your dedication, your flexibility, and your commitment.”