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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Central Elementary will get new kitchen

Monday, December 24, 2012

The back and side wall of this office area will be removed for the kitchen at Central and incorporate the current area used for food preparation. A portion of the hallway leading to the gym will be installed with "rolling windows," that students can use with their trays to get food.
(Lorri Sughroue/McCook Daily Gazette)
McCOOK, Nebraska -- Lunches at Central Elementary will not have to be trucked in from across town, thanks to a new kitchen that is estimated to be completed by the beginning of the next school year.

Lunches now are being transported from the elementary school to Central, as there is not enough room to prepare the food at Central Elementary. Construction on the kitchen will begin this summer, said McCook Schools Business Manager Rick Haney, and will use space created when a wall is knocked down between an office area and classroom and a small area currently used to distribute the food. It will house convection ovens, dishwashing machines, a sterilization machine, freezers and storage.

In addition, "rolling" windows will be installed along an existing hallway that students will use to get food on their trays.

(Lorri Sughroue/McCook Daily Gazette)
The kitchen has been a vision for the school board for quite a while, said Tom Bredvick, McCook School Board president.

"I'm excited about it. Because of smart fiscal planing on the part of Rick Haney and the school board's strategic planning, we solved a need that needed to be addressed," he said, with a kitchen at Central a goal for the school board since he was first elected eight years ago.

"It's been a long-term vision ... what can we do to improve lunch quality."

The current "kitchen" area at Central Elementary.
(Lorri Sughroue/McCook Daily Gazette)
With the new kitchen, meals will be prepared and served on-site and the food will be fresh and hot. Students will continue to eat their meals in the gym.

School board secretary Diane Lyons, who has also been on the board eight years, said the kitchen will improve the quality of food at Central and make mealtime more enjoyable for the students.

It may also increase participation in the school lunch program as well, which in turn will benefit the school district.

As with other school districts, the food service program used by schools makes annual payments to the district, the amount depending on the number of meals served.

Sodexo, the food service used by McCook Schools, typically has paid the district between $22,000 and $36,000 per year, according to Haney.

The McCook School District has saved the bulk of these funds through the years for the kitchen, although some were used for upgrades at the Junior High cafeteria. The kitchen at Central is estimated to cost between $165,000 and $170,000, Haney said.

Student involvement with the school lunch program in McCook has historically dropped off from McCook Elementary to Central, then picks up again in the junior high, Lyons said.

Haney said plans are being drawn up by David Wilson of W Design Associates in McCook. This firm also designed the existing Central Elementary, Haney said.

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