HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - School lunches will take on a healthier twist in Harrison County this year. Over the summer, three schools in the district installed new, high-tech kitchen equipment. The Combi Ovens can cut the fat but not the flavor.
Cafeteria crews across the Harrison County School District are used to serving thousands of meals a day. On Tuesday, they got a cooking lesson from a corporate chef. Bel-Aire Elementary School, D'Iberville Elementary School, and the Harrison County Alternative School received a grant to install six of the latest models of the Combi Ovens.
"More economical, food quality better, just everything. We were very excited. I did a happy dance with the girls," said Bel-Aire Elementary Food Service Manager Tammy Marion.
A chef with the company that manufactures the ovens showed the employees how to use the equipment to prepare healthier meals. The Combi Ovens use steam, dry heat, and sensors.
"This piece of equipment has the ability to grill, bake, steam, fry, roast, overnight cook, proof, poach. You can smoke with it. Yes, at the end of the day, it will clean itself," said Rational Corporate Chef Billy Buck.
"I am very amazed. It's just hard to believe they have such technology. It's not going to be undercooked or overcooked. It'll be perfect," said Harrison County Alternative School Food Service Manager Shari Marks.
The ovens replaced the deep fryers, so schools can serve more nutritious meals to students, while still keeping the quality and flavor.
"Very crispy. Not soggy or nothing. Very good," said one lady as she tasted the chicken nuggets.
"It's crunchy on the bottom and moist on the top," said Marks as she tried a slice of pizza. "I think they're going to notice a difference, and they'll think it's even better."
"I'm excited about this coming up year and the changes it's going to bring," said Marion.
The three-year $265,000 grant came through the Mississippi Department of Education. The Harrison County School District plans to apply for more grants and hopes to install at least one Combi Oven in every school.