School nutrition programs receive state recognition
Published 7:00 am Friday, November 18, 2016
Two Pearl River County School districts participated in the annual Mississippi School Nutrition Association Conference last weekend in Tupelo.
“It’s not about where they go to school, it’s about getting them fed,” Sheila Amacker, food service administrator for the Pearl River County School District, said.
Representatives from both Picayune and Pearl River County districts participated in several competitions at this year’s conference, each bringing home a gold and bronze medal.
“I was proud our two schools took down everybody,” Danica Barber, cafeteria manager at Roseland Park Elementary School, said.
Out of 500 competitors, Barber won first place in the storyboard contest, which featured the school’s fresh fruit and vegetable program.
Barber said the purpose of the contest was to show how the school reached out to the community to describe the programs.
With the fresh fruit and vegetable program, Picayune exposes its students to a wider variety of foods, many children in the program have never seen or tasted before.
The storyboard asks, “What are you doing to raise participation in federal programs?” Amacker said.
Other than federal breakfast and lunch programs, Pearl River County District schools also participate in the fresh fruit and vegetable program, Amacker said.
“Not every person concentrates on that snack program, but it’s very vital,” she said. “Snacking is what hurts us.”
The theme this year was “Heroes of Child Nutrition, Defenders of the Plate,” Amacker said.
Barber and Tina Farrell, cafeteria manager at Pearl River Central High School and Junior High, also competed in a cupcake competition at the conference.
Farrell won first place for her healthy twist on the traditional Chantilly cake decorated with a Veterans Day theme.
“It was a great feeling,” Farrell said. “I’m so honored.”
Amacker said this is the second consecutive year Farrell won first place in the competition, bringing home second her first year.
The conference also allows staff from various areas of the state to come together and share ideas.
“When I sat back and was able to see cafeteria employees engaging in conversation and talking among one another, it just filled my soul,” Amacker said.
Other educational sessions offered to participants included conflict resolution between employees, as well as with customers, and time management practices, Amacker said.
“The biggest thing this year was learning to stop conflict in the workplace,” Farrell said.
Farrell and Barber also formed a bond, working and competing side-by-side for the first time at the conference.
“I’ve met friends throughout different parts of Mississippi and
there are different things that I do now that I’ve learned from them,” Farrell said.
However, Amacker, Barber and Farrell all said the reason the conference is so important is to find ways to help the kids.
“We always want to be nice to kids because we don’t know what they’re going home to,” Barber said.