School district replacing deep-fat fryers with oven steamers for healthier food

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 10, 2016

NATCHEZ — The use of deep-fat fryers in the Natchez-Adams School District cafeterias is soon to be a thing of the past.

Child nutrition supervisor Shantoura Spears said as the grants have come available to the district over several years, she and her predecessors have been using the funds to replace the fryers with healthier combination oven steamers.

The final two holdouts, fryers at Susie B. West Elementary School and Natchez High School, will be replaced sometime before August.

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“With this new equipment, our goal is to make our school breakfasts and lunches as healthy as possible so that our students are fit, healthy and ready to succeed,” Spears said. “We can still cook the foods our children like to eat, such as fries, but without all of the grease.”

Spears said the steamer ovens roughly cost $20,000 each, and are funded partially through a grant. The district will pay for half of the cost.

Other schools have been using the steamers for years, and Spears said students like the food.

“With proper training, the results of the cooking should be about the same,” she said. “There is no difference between fried and baked with taste except less grease.”

Eliminating the grease makes a big difference in improving children’s diet, Spears said.

“With everything going on with childhood obesity and the diseases that go along with it, diet is a big concern,” Spears said. “Installing this new piece of kitchen equipment and using lower fat cooking methods are two of the many ways that Natchez-Adams School District is focusing on the health of students.”

Natchez-Adams School District Public Relations Coordinator Steven Richardson said healthy eating goes along with the district’s focus on improving student health.

“The new healthy ovens and physical fitness make a good marriage,” he said. “Our district has also been concentrating on fitness with physical education and having fitness breaks outside.

“We are continuing to highlight healthy living amongst our students.”