Child Nutrition

Our School Food Evolution

Great students run on great food — and Central Park is redefining what great school food means!

Here at Central Park, we are committed to equity and justice for all, from our students here in Durham to people around the globe.In order to sustain our commitment to holistic learning, we are embarking on a journey of delicious discovery to support student growth and success through a new approach to school food.

Our Vision

A school meal program that feeds students’ minds and bodies. A school meal program that:

  • supports local and global resiliency
  • brings students and staff together over shared food and conversation
  • supports the livelihood of producers, chefs, and others in our community
  • provides a model for pushing school meal programs further
  • proves school lunch can and should be part of a great school experience

We are joining the National School Lunch Program to sustain access to school meals for all students regardless of income. And we have pulled together a school food team committed to equity and taste every step of the way.

We’ve welcomed a nutrition director with over 30 years of school food service to oversee our programs and ensure that we maintain support for a triple bottom line: people (our students, staff, farmers, producers), planet (from Durham to the world), and budget (paying our chefs, catering staff, farmers, and producers equitably within the confines of USDA school meal reimbursement — yes, it can be done).

We’re working with a local chef and caterer, Ashlyn Smith of Spicy Green Gourmet, utilizing delicious recipes that support student growth and protect the planet. Spicy Green is excited to provide us with delicious daily meals, including tasty vegetarian and hot lunch options.

We’re working with nutrition and research professionals to expand our commitment to good food at lunch and throughout the school day.

And we’re working with you, Central Park families, to make this happen. How? Check out page 3 of our program sheet for details or contact our Nutrition Coordinator, Nadine Blake, at or 919-682- 1200 x746.

How Can You Help?

Great school food is only possible if everyone participates. Regardless of individual families’ ability to pay, your child’s participation in school meals brings more money to the table — that’s more funds to purchase foods we believe in, more funds to pay nutrition staff fair wages, and more funds to offer expanded options and education to our future eaters and food system advocates.

Lunch & Milk Ordering

Milk Ordering

Milk can be purchased separate from lunches. The price per day is $0.35 and students may again choose from 1% unflavored white milk or fat-free chocolate, with a vanilla soy alternative available upon special request. This year’s milk program will be again managed with pre-orders since we do not have an automated cashiering system or a simple way for handling occasional milk purchases. With the per-day cost of $0.35 and 129 school days (with lunch service) in Q2-Q4, the total cost to parents would be $0.35 x 129 days = $45.15. Families who have received confirmation from the school of free or reduced lunch eligibility can benefit from discounts.

See the paper ordering form or the online ordering form for more information and to get signed up.

Lunch Ordering

Spicy Green Catering, including Chef Ashlyn and her team, will provide lunches for Central Park students this year. We started the year with a kid-approved menu designed for our friends at Henderson Collegiate Charter School, and have been working to refine our seasonal offerings for Central Park’s palate. Lunches will cost $3.95, or free / reduced at $0.40 per meal for those who qualify. We can reduce our meal prices further as more students participate!

Students will still get to pre-order to help the caterer estimate volume and reduce food waste; students will have at least two entree options every day, along with several vegetable and fruit side dishes. Spicy Green is committed to 100% whole-grain rich foods, no artificial food dyes, and locally sourced foods, including veggies, fruits, meats, eggs, and dairy, when feasible. No peanuts will be used in our meals, and other allergies may be accommodated — see the contact information below.

Students will get to walk through and select from many choices on a beautiful serving line every day, and then return to their classrooms to enjoy their meal family style as we have been doing for years.

Ordering Details

  • Monthly menus will be available for viewing at least 1 week before the beginning of the month.
  • You can order lunches only on the days you need them.
  • You may cancel an order up until 7:30 AM the day of the delivery. You will receive a credit for any meals canceled.

Ordering Lunch ONLINE

School lunches must be pre-ordered through These instructions will help you set up accounts, login, and place orders. Accounts from last year were transitioned to the new system. Please double check that your child is assigned to the correct school, grade and teacher.

Ordering Lunch OFFLINE

If you prefer not to order online, but would still like to order a school lunch, please stop by either Front Desk, send an email to, or call 919-682-1200 x251.


  • Payments by credit card: can be made on the website
  • Payments by cash or check: please bring your payment by the front office at least three days ahead of your need to allow time for your account to be credited

*Allergy Notice

The caterer does not have a nut-free facility, however no nuts are in the food items offered other than the peanut butter sandwiches. Gluten-free alternatives are occasionally available; Items made with gluten-free ingredients do not guarantee to eliminate all traces of gluten.

Free & Reduced Lunch

Central Park is officially joining the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) this year, and the free & reduced application process we will be using requires paper applications. We hopefully can get back to using an online application for future years.

All families who believe they are eligible for free or reduced lunch benefits are encouraged to read the parent letter and complete the paper application (printable version). Paper applications can also be picked up at either school office. FAQs, income charts, and instructions are available as part of the parent letter. Additionally there is an optional form which allows you to indicate if you would like your approved status shared with other programs in order to receive additional benefits beyond free or reduced lunch prices (e.g. before school/after school discounts, food pantry assistance).

Even though new school students have recently filled out a Free & Reduced Lunch application to confirm lottery status, this new application is required in order to receive free or reduced lunch benefits for the 2016-2017 school year.

Questions, comments, concerns? Email or call 919-682-1200 x746.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is an equal opportunity provider and employer. USDA prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or if all or part of an individual's income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited basis will apply to all programs and/or employment activities). Under the Federal Child Nutrition Program and USDA policy, discrimination is prohibited under the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.

If you wish to file a Civil Rights complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online at, or at any USDA office, or call 866.632.9992 to request the form. You may also write a letter containing all of the information requested in the form. Send your completed complaint form or letter to us by mail at U.S. Department of Agriculture, Director, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20250-9410, by fax 202.690.7442 or email at . Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at 800.877.8339; or 800.845.6136 (Spanish). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

This page (Child Nutrition) last updated April 3, 2017