Working with children and a friendly staff makes this an ideal environment, but there are challenges. Children have a high prevalence of food allergies and parents often call with concerns regarding what their children can have on that day’s menu. A student with a severe allergy will get a personalized menu each month with specialty ordered foods at no additional cost to ensure adequate nutrition is provided. Another challenging task is evaluating the nutrient content for each meal and ensuring it is adequate for the specific age group. Menu writing must also change for different age groups to make the choices appear interesting. For example, on Fridays, a popular item for elementary students is titled “Fun on the Run.” At the high school cafeteria, I helped initiate and market a portable snack cart to ensure students “Fuel Up” before practice, theatre, and other clubs. Additionally, I created a script for the morning announcements as well as poster displays around the school. Sales are historically lower for the middle school in this district, so for my retail marketing project I chose breakfast as the topic and will be presenting it to the them. Breakfast is commonly overlooked among this age, even though they have the most to gain from maintaining a healthy diet. I feel the middle school will benefit from this marketing campaign.
The most interesting experience so far was developing and implementing a disaster plan. In the case of a closure of one elementary school, a plan was implemented to move all the students to the second elementary school. The food service department had to work as a team to determine the best plan to feed one school with twice the student volume. I find the work rewarding at the end of the day because the dietitian has the ability to provide adequate nutrition and improve the quality of life for over 1,500 students on a daily basis. It’s a good feeling to know that a child has access to a whole nutritious meal.