• 28°

School lunchrooms earn high ratings

Lunch is served: Donya Johnson serves lunch to students at Clanton Elementary School. (Photos by Stephen Dawkins)

Lunch is served: Donya Johnson serves lunch to students at Clanton Elementary School. (Photos by Stephen Dawkins)

Chilton County School System lunchroom workers take pride in serving students.

They showed their dedication following a challenge from Child Nutrition Director Rachel Rachels.

Rachels said she was working to update the system’s Food Safety Plan in December 2015, and she knew Health Department inspections were coming up.

She challenged the staffs of the system’s 11 school lunchrooms to make 100s on the inspections, and they came close.

Seven local schools (Clanton Elementary, Clanton Intermediate, Jemison Elementary, Jemison High School, Jemison Middle, Maplesville and Thorsby) earned a 100 on the quarterly inspection. Three schools (Clanton Middle, Isabella and Verbena) earned a 99, and Chilton County High School earned a 98.

“I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if everybody made 100,’” Rachels said.

She said she’s not sure if as many school lunchrooms have ever made 100 on inspections at the same time.

The difference between a 99 and a 100 could be an inspector finding a small dent in a can.

Working together: The CES lunchroom staff includes (front row) Melinda Melton, Kim Polk, (back row) Brandyy Carter, Janice McKinney, Bridgette Cooedy, Kathy Headley, Donya Johnson and Sabrina Minor. Not pictured is Rebekah Campbell.

Working together: The CES lunchroom staff includes (front row) Melinda Melton, Kim Polk, (back row) Brandyy Carter, Janice McKinney, Bridgette Cooedy, Kathy Headley, Donya Johnson and Sabrina Minor. Not pictured is Rebekah Campbell.

The ratings are a source of pride for a staff that serves about 5,600 lunches a day.

Rachels said training is the most significant improvement that has been made.

While regulations call for managers to be ServSafe certified, Rachels has set an internal goal for all staff members to be certified.

As a certified instructor herself, she’s been able to work toward that goal, and more than 80 percent of employees are certified.

There are 83 lunchroom workers in the county.

“It’s not a Health Department requirement for all to be certified, but we want to be,” Rachels said. “We’re very proactive about making sure the food we serve is safe for students.”