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HILLSVILLE — Pizza seemed the most popular with educators during the first lunch served under the new food service provider for Carroll County Public Schools.
Chartwells served up a menu of pizza, nachos, corn salsa, wraps and watermelon to a hungry crowd of teachers and administrators at a divisionwide gathering at Carroll County High School just before the new school year commenced.
The line for the pizza and nachos seemed longer than the one for the sandwiches, but several still walked away with wraps. Many admitted to dining on the food from both lines.
The cafeteria had been repainted with a sunny gold and the long institutional tables had been replaced with blue and yellow tables in two different heights and a lunch counter in the middle of the room.
The serving lines looked new and streamlined with stainless steel lamps lighting up platters of food and shelves for drinks.
Serving the most students and teachers, the high school facility is the Cadillac of the new meals program provided under Chartwells, a Charlotte, N.C.-based company that provides breakfast and lunch to 550 public school districts and private schools.
Teacher Shawn Montgomery could appreciate the changes. "I want to school here. It's very nice. It kind of gives a college atmosphere for the students and the food was really good today."
He's one of those who ate everything, and it all seemed good.
Montgomery always brought his lunch to school and he hasn't decided if that practice will change.
But many teachers and administrators had the same positive reaction.
"This is representatives of the quality of the food that students are going to be receiving on a daily basis and the variety..." said schools Superintendent Greg Smith.
Students at the high school will have six different food choices from the grill, salad, pizza and subs. "That will be a wonderful daily option for the students."
Every station will have a free and reduced lunch option for students in those program. There has been no increase in lunch prices.
School Board Member Harold Golding felt the smaller tables would feel cozier to the students, as they can gather around the tables with a couple of their friends at lunchtime and visit. "It looks like a social area instead of a school cafeteria," he commented.
The cafeteria has the same amount of seating, plus couches and a stereo system.
"Students spend so much time in the classroom," Smith explained, "We wanted to create an atmosphere that was welcoming and pleasant."
He believes that students will be able to relax and enjoy their time.
New high school principal Scott Watson, who's been on the job for about a month, said students deserve the improvements to cafeteria.
"It's nice when we give choices and privileges to our students," he said. "It seems quite apparent there's a high level of trust that our students are responsible to handle these new privileges, because that's what it takes."