School Food Leadership
Service members spend much of their year in the cafeteria, making the lunchroom a welcoming place where it’s safe to try new and healthy foods. They learn quickly that the people who have the greatest influence on what students eat are school food service professionals, drawing many of them to this important line of work.
This year we held a two-day School Food Leadership Training for service members and alumni interested in this career path. We brought together leaders in the field to share their expertise and help our participants build the skills and confidence they need to be a powerful force for health in schools.
Director of Child Nutrition, North Monterey County Unified School District
While in college, Sarah spent a summer as a product development intern for a major food company. While grateful for the opportunity, she realized that she wanted to do something that had a greater and more direct impact on creating a healthier food system. Sarah studied food science, and discovered her passion for nutrition while working on an organic farm in Massachusetts, where she became aware of the knowledge gap that exists for most people when it comes to understanding where their food comes from. This led to her FoodCorps service with New London Public Schools in Connecticut from 2013 to 2014, where she shared her love for food and wellness with the students. Sarah served directly with food service directors, managers, and cooks, and it was this hands-on experience that helped her fall in love with the work. Now she leads the school district in menu planning, food procurement, staff development, and more.
Cafeteria Chef, Brigaid
Stephanie’s experience as a FoodCorps service member opened her eyes to the possibilities of using her training in culinary nutrition to connect kids with healthy food. After serving in Arizona with Tohono O’odham Community Action (TOCA), Stephanie was hired to join the TOCA staff as the Food Services Development Coordinator, analyzing existing school food systems to implement scratch-cooking and culturally appropriate meal programs for this close-knit indigenous community. After two years with TOCA, she became the Culinary Specialist and the the Supervisor of Nutrition Services at Monterey Peninsula Unified School District in California. At MPUSD, she works with a motivated and enthusiastic team to prepare and serve student-approved quality scratch-made meals with locally sourced foods. Stephanie recently started a new position with Brigaid. Following the model of “one chef, one kitchen,” Stephanie will be responsible for leading a scratch-cooking program in one of the elementary schools within New London Public Schools by overseeing the preparation and execution of the menus in the school.
“FoodCorps really was my stepping stone into the real food world. I learned truths of our broken food system, but gained networks, tools, and knowledge about how I could put my energy and background toward something meaningful to myself and others.”