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Beekmantown Central among prize winners for school lunch programs

BEEKMANTOWN - The Beekmantown Central School District is one of eight school districts across the state that has been recognized for creativity and excellence in their school lunch programs.

New York State Office of General Services Commissioner John C. Egan has announced his office, in conjunction with representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, selected BCSD as an honorable mention award winner for the 2010 Best Practices Awards. The recognition, announced Aug. 9, highlights school district efforts in using USDA foods.

BCSD superintendent Scott A. Amo said the district is "extremely proud" of food services director Roxann Barnes in submitting the school district for recognition, which resulted in successfully receiving $1,000 in federal funding to support the purchase of school lunch-related equipment.

"Roxie has developed an innovative lunch program and serving line routine that has increased our students' interest in school lunch. That's a great thing to have happen in this day and age," said Amo. "[The recognition] just brings more attention to the hard work that she has put forth on behalf of our students, working and helping them develop better and healthier lifestyles, in terms of their eating habits."

First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson commended the Office of General Services and the award-winning schools for supporting healthy eating environments in New York State.

Paterson, who established the school-based "Healthy Steps to Albany: First Lady's Challenge," a competition developed to teach children about health and wellness, noted wellness and education go "hand in hand."

"Research has shown that healthy students are four times more likely to do better in school. Poor nutrition and hunger interfere with brain function and are associated with lower academic achievement," stated Paterson. "Their dedication to providing healthy meals symbolizes their commitment to the health of our students."

"This program is a perfect example of New York State's commitment to healthy living" Egan added in a prepared statement. "These awards recognize the creativity used in school lunch programs to make healthy eating an integral part of a student's day."

In order to qualify for recognition from the Office of General Services and USDA, schools submit a description of innovative programs they have incorporated into their lunch programs that include the use of USDA food. The submissions are then judged by a four-member panel consisting of representatives from both organizations. This year's winners will be recognized at the New York School Nutrition Association annual conference in Saratoga Springs this October.

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