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Schools kick off free meals program

School nutrition worker Corinthia Alston prepares boxed salads for students at North Clayton Middle School. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)

School nutrition worker Corinthia Alston prepares boxed salads for students at North Clayton Middle School. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)

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Karen Seay, school nutrition manager at North Clayton Middle School, helps prep orange slices for student lunches Monday. (Staff Photo: Johnny Jackson)

RIVERDALE — School nutrition workers Corinthia Alston and Sabrina Howard busily prepared the salads — 50 of them spread out over a large stainless steel table.

“We’ll see how they work out,” said Karen Seay, cafeteria manager at North Clayton Middle School.

Typically, the healthier vegetables are less sought-after cuisines for middle schoolers, Seay said. Her department also prepared more than 500 cheeseburgers.

However, she said she was optimistic about the salads.

Nutrition workers did not skip a beat between breakfast and lunch service Monday.

Seay said they transitioned straight into lunch, even prepping the noonday meal as breakfast was being prepared.

Clayton County Public Schools’ involvement in the federal Community Eligibility Option program for free meal reimbursement will make their efforts that much more vital because they will be feeding more students.

The CEO program is part of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 and is designed to ensure every student in low-income neighborhoods can participate in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.

“It’s going to be very important that we do stay ahead because we’re going to be feeding all our students at no cost,” said Seay. “We’re excited about the things happening in Clayton County and the nutrition program.”