The nutrition departments of three northwest Georgia school systems are fired up about school meals for the new academic term.
For the third year, staff members from the Cartersville, Calhoun and Dalton city school nutrition departments participated in an in-service program conducted by registered dietitian Dayle Hayes of Billings, Montana, who speaks to school districts across the country to encourage them to create “School Meals That Rock.”
“We know that nutrition is incredibly important to help kids learn because hungry children cannot concentrate, and, therefore, they cannot learn in the classroom,” she said in a press release. “It is very important that they get great food, but that they also get it with a friendly smile.”
In fact, Hayes uses the acronym SMILE — School Meals Improve Learning Environments — to encourage the school nutrition employees.
The 175 participants attending the Aug. 1 event, hosted by Cartersville City School Nutrition Director Tracey Morris at Cartersville Middle School, heard ideas on providing excellent customer service, offering outstanding food presentation and using social media to let parents see the meals their kids are eating.
“All three of our school systems believe in giving our staff the best so that they, in turn, will give our students the best,” Morris said. “When our systems participate together, we can afford to bring in nationally renowned speakers. Ms. Hayes really inspired our staff to be their best every day. She reminded us how important our role truly is in education. We supply the fuel for the engine of learning.”
She added all the nutrition directors had seen Hayes present before, and she was “wonderful, very upbeat.”
The speaker shared a number of refreshing concepts with the nutrition staffs, according to Morris.
“We want our employees to start the school year with positive attitudes and fresh ideas to serve to our students,” she said. “We all eat with our eyes, so presentation is very important. She also covered social media. We do so many great things that the public does not see. She covered how to take a good picture and how we should share what is going on in each school nutrition program.”
The participants also had other areas to cover during the six-hour in-service, which is required each year, Morris said.
“We had Dayle Hayes as the main speaker and also our social work department, Paula Womack and Maria Hoffman, that trained the staffs on mandated reporting,” she said. “The director from Dalton also covered the required training on civil rights.”
Morris said she was “very pleased” with the way the in-service went.
“Our staffs left feeling great about serving students,” she said.
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