Bridgette Matthews is a Lead Mentor for USDA’s Team Up for Nutrition Success Initiative, which provides school food authorities with tailored technical assistance and training to successfully implement the school meal patterns. Here, Bridgette discusses the importance of training for school nutrition staff. A recent study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that the majority of school food service directors believe their staffs need more training to maximize the benefits of the new nutrition standards. Bridgette’s examples demonstrate how proper training can not only help staff meet the new standards, but also prepare them to teach students about making healthy choices.
By Bridgette Matthews, School Nutrition Director for Elbert County Schools, Georgia
Like their fellow educators down the hall, the school nutrition professionals I work with must be well-prepared to answer students’ tough questions. That’s why staff training and development are crucial parts of our school meal program—for me as the director and for our whole team.
Nutrition training is particularly important for my front-line servers and cashiers, because they’re the ones who talk with students the most each day. How they respond to even a seemingly minor question—such as “Why doesn’t this sandwich have pickles?”—can affect children’s choices and their overall impression of our program.