School installing new calorie-conscious ovens

Published 11:25 am Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Warren Central High School will get combination oven steamers in its cafeteria for the coming school year thanks to a Nutrition Integrity 2011 grant received by the Vicksburg Warren School District.

The $20,000 grant is funded by the Mississippi Department of Education Office of Child Nutrition and The Bower Foundation and will cover about half the cost of the oven plus its installation, said Gail Kavanaugh, director of child nutrition. Combi-ovens can cost $30,000 to $40,000 because of changes to plumbing and electrical connections.

Kavanaugh met with electricians at WCHS earlier today to begin planning necessary rerouting of wiring and removing the deep-fat fryers.

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An earlier Nutrition Integrity 2011 grant allowed removal of the deep-fat fryers at Vicksburg High School and purchase and installation of a combi-oven there during the first week in May.

“We are very happy with it,” said Kavanaugh, adding the ovens are part of the district’s emphasis on fitness, health and academic success.

Rising VHS senior Megan Wright said the change from frying to baking was hardly noticeable.

“It didn’t affect anything except maybe the french fries,” Megan said. “Sometimes they came out a little soggy and sometimes they were just fine. Maybe it depends on how long they were left in there.”

Kavanaugh said baking french fries in the combi-oven results in about 17 percent fewer calories and 55 percent fewer fat grams than frying. French fries are served one to two times a week in school cafeterias, she said.

Other schools in the district with combi-ovens are Bovina, Sheman Avenue and Bowmar elementaries, and Kavanaugh hopes to acquire them for other schools as funds allow.