Healthy Schools: An Interview with Carlton Jones

Posted by on Mar 28, 2019 | Comments Off on Healthy Schools: An Interview with Carlton Jones

by Jordan Johnson

After last month’s blog post on the revitalization of the compost program at CCS Nutrition Department (if you missed it, check it out here) we are excited to share more about the CCS Nutrition Department who we have worked so closely with for many years. Over the next few months, we hope to dedicate some space in our newsletter to highlight the team and what they are doing.

From Harvest of the Month, to Farm to School week, we have collaborated with this amazing team and want to continue to highlight the work put in to make sure that Charlottesville City School students have healthy options available for lunch. I recently interviewed Carlton Jones, Nutrition Director at CCS who was excited to share all the work that they have been doing

1.   How long have you been at CCS? 

3 years.

2.  What were you doing before CCS?

I received my Associates in Culinary Arts and my Bachelors in Food Service Management from Johnson & Wales University. After college, I began managing restaurants and did that for 10 years. And before I came to Charlottesville City Schools, I was working in the nutrition department of Richmond City Schools for 10 years.

3.  Can you speak to some of the healthy choices that you’ve implemented? (just mentioning them—i think we will highlight things like sensational salads, the wraps, whole grain, 100% juice, LoL in future ones) 

Salad sensations has been happening for a few years and was started before I got here. But we have seen so much excitement about the program. This is where elementary students are able to get a personal made salad every day.  Students have a choice of 3 items every day for lunch and it is not uncommon for students to choose a salad for lunch. Some schools can be 60-70 salads made by staff every day.

At CCS we strive to have our program Local on the Line happen, minimum of once per month minimum sometimes twice. This is where we highlight a local crop on the lunch line.

We also highlight a healthy Grab and Go option for lunch at the older grades—often a Panini or sandwich on a Ciabatta roll.

We highlight fresh fruit on the line every day as well.

There has been a lax in regulations federal regulations around school lunches specifically with milk, whole grain requirement and sodium requirements. At CCS we will not be relying on these laxed rules. There’s no going backwards when it comes to healthy options.

4.  What are some changes you are hoping to make in the coming year?

Right now, we are focusing on increasing number of students eating breakfast and lunch. We are heading right to the students for feedback through focus groups with students, and taste testing—trying to change the perception among students of school lunches. We are piloting some taste-tests at Back to school nights in the fall, we have done some focus groups at the CHS, taste tests at Buford and Walker. We also have looked into work that other schools have done, including possibly doing a “second chance breakfast” after the bell. This is an option to get breakfast after 1st period, so students have another chance to get breakfast if they didn’t have time in the morning.

At Buford and CHS- we are only feeding 10-15% of students. So students are going to give peer-led surveys to get an understanding from students about what they want.

5.  What would be an ideal lunch program in your eyes?

A program where the students look forward to coming to lunch—all students look forward to coming to lunch. Thats one reason why we’re using the student led focus group because I believe that its not only that students aren’t coming up to get lunch but I believe that a lot of students aren’t eating. All students need a nutritious meal in school. I want students to look forward to coming to the cafeteria. They are enjoying lunch and responsive of what we’re doing. We’re making a positive impact on their lives with the foods that they are eating.

Anything else?

I definitely want to say that we have a great staff and they strive hard every day to make sure that our kids aren’t hungry. The cafeteria staff are there every day, coming in early and staying late to make sure that our students have food to eat.