Seven students sitting outside on steps enjoying a healthy snack together

According to the USDA, a Buncombe County School is one of the nation's healthiest places to learn.

BCS is receiving attention at the highest levels for its commitment to providing students access to high quality food, excellent service, health education, and proper nutrition. This fall, the system's School Nutrition Department led the charge in earning forty-two (42) awards of excellence- one for every school- from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Only 91 such awards were given nation-wide this year.

“It is a great honor and privilege to serve the students of Buncombe County Schools,” said Ms. Lisa C. Payne, Child Nutrition Director. “Our School Nutrition Professionals continue to impress me daily, as they work diligently to ensure that our students are fed nutritious and palatable meals.”

This week, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) informed Ms. Payne that every BCS school will be recognized through the HealthierUS School Challenge: Smarter Lunchroom (HUSSC:SL) awards program. Of the nearly 100,000 public schools nation-wide, these local schools in Buncombe County join the 2,983 lauded by the USDA program since 2004. Furthermore, as of September 28, 2017, only 31 schools nation-wide had ever received a Gold Award of Distinction. This fall, BCS receives 8.

“The USDA commends these schools for the exemplary steps, leadership, and teamwork employed to make changes to their school's nutrition environment; improve the quality of the foods served; provide students with more nutritious, healthy choices; and, enhance their physical activity program,” read the announcement shared by Ms. Sherry Held, NCDPI Zone 1 School Nutrition Specialist.

Through the Smarter Lunchroom challenge, the USDA recognizes schools that go above and beyond Federal requirements to create nutritious environments for students. According to the USDA, schools are commended for “their efforts in improving food and beverage offerings, teaching kids about nutritious food choices and being physically active, providing opportunities for physical activity, and having supportive school wellness policies.” The program is about supporting schools as they guide students toward smarter choices.

“We have long known the connection between a healthy lifestyle and academic success,” said Superintendent Dr. Tony Baldwin. “I am proud to work among such committed educators and staff in the School Nutrition Department; their recognition is well deserved.”

“Buncombe County strives to be a leader in the nation by creating healthier school environments through promotion of smarter lunchrooms, nutrition and physical activity,” said Payne.

The Nutrition Department will accept the awards at a reception held this fall in Durham. The certified schools will also be added to the USDA's list of Award Winning Schools.

Award-Winning Buncombe County Schools:
A.C. Reynolds High School (Silver)
A.C. Reynolds Middle School (Silver)
Avery’s Creek Elementary School (Silver)
Barnardsville School (Gold Award of Distinction)
Black Mountain Elementary School (Bronze)
Black Mountain Primary School (Silver)
Buncombe County Early College (Bronze)
C.D. Owen Middle School (Silver)
C.D. Owen High School (Silver)
Candler Elementary School (Silver)
Cane Creek Middle School (Bronze)
Charles C. Bell Elementary School (Silver)
Charles T. Koontz Intermediate School (Silver)
Clyde A. Erwin High School (Silver)
Clyde A. Erwin Middle School (Silver)
Community High School (Silver)
Emma Elementary School (Gold Award of Distinction)
Enka High School (Silver)
Enka Middle School (Silver)
Fairview Elementary School (Silver)
Glen Arden Elementary School (Bronze)
Haw Creek Elementary School (Bronze)
Hominy Valley Elementary School (Bronze)
Joe P. Eblen Intermediate School (Gold)
Johnston Elementary School (Gold Award of Distinction)
Leicester Elementary School (Silver)
Martin L. Nesbitt Discovery Academy (Silver)
North Buncombe Elementary School (Silver)
North Buncombe High School (Silver)
North Buncombe Middle School (Bronze)
North Windy Ridge Intermediate School (Silver)
Oakley Elementary School (Gold Award of Distinction)
Pisgah Elementary School (Gold Award of Distinction)
Sand Hill-Venable School (Gold Award of Distinction)
T.C. Roberson High School (Bronze)
Valley Spring Middle School (Bronze)
W.D. Williams Elementary School (Gold Award of Distinction)
Weaverville Elementary School (Bronze)
Weaverville Primary School (Bronze)
West Buncombe Elementary School (Silver)
William W. Estes Elementary School (Silver)
Woodfin Elementary School (Gold Award of Distinction)

*Pictured Above: Students from Leicester Elementary School show off their healthy lunches on the school's steps.

More information the USDA's HealthierUS School Challenge.