Lumberton proud of ‘new’ school cafeteria

By HASKEL BURNS,

The 581 K-12 students who share the cafeteria at Lumberton Schools now have a larger dining area and an updated kitchen – among other new measures – with the recent renovation of that area.

School, county and other local officials held a ribbon cutting and grand opening Tuesday at the refurbished site, which is located behind the elementary school. As part of the renovation, workers transformed a former classroom space into an extra dining area and added café-style seating for the students.

“I’m excited,” said Tess Smith, superintendent of the Lamar County School District. “There’s a lot more room to the students, there’s a lot more room for those who are working a preparing the food, and I love that we were able to add the café-style seating.

“We have that at Oak Grove and Sumrall, so now this is our third location to be able to add that for our older students.”

In addition, the kitchen was expanded to give workers more room and change up some freezer space in the back.

“The menu will stay the same; it just gives them a little more space in which to work,” Smith said.

While work was underway on the new cafeteria, students received their lunches at a temporary location on campus.

“What we did is, we used the old district office on the hill,” Smith said. “We made some changes and added the coolers in there, and other things that were necessary to keep the food temperature-regulated.

“So we started at the end of last school year, and we ‘brown-bagged’ it all the way through the month of December and into this year. So it took us a little longer.”

The renovation was made possible by bond money pursued by Sen. John Polk of Hattiesburg. In April 2019, the school district’s board of directors approved a bid of $1.139 million from Codaray Construction for the work on the cafeteria, as well as a new bus barn for the district.

“Senator Polk and I had discussed, with the consolidation (of Lumberton schools into the Lamar County School District), that there were some things we wanted to do down here to show our commitment,” Smith said.

On February 14, parents will be invited to come with their students to a special lunch in the new cafeteria.

“That’ll be the public’s first time to really see it,” Smith said.