The School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts held their 63rd Annual Fall Conference and Show, Be Inspired!, this past week. This conference included discussions on creating opportunities in school nutrition, lunch lady heroes, and a look at the most recent updates on the federal and state regulations. View the SNA of Mass. 63rd Conference brochure here.
One of the panels at the conference, Moving Up!, featured inspiring success stories from school nutrition leaders who worked their way up in school foodservice. For example, Allison Johnson originally held a B.S. in Biology from Northeastern University. She later became a part-time manager for a cafe on Cape Cod while in school, obtained an M.Ed. in Nutrition Education, and worked in several public school foodservice settings up to her current position as Foodservice Director for Foxborough Public Schools.
Meanwhile, Nadine Doucette began her career as a substitute cafeteria worker in 2000, later becoming a full-time employee, a baker/manager’s assistant, and finally to her present position as Food Service Manager for the Pembroke Public Schools.
Janelle Madden has worked for 22 years in the private foodservice setting. Madden has also worked as a cafeteria worker, pizza maker, and manager in the Needham Public School system, and is now the Food and Nutrition Service Director for the Dover-Sherborn Public School District.
The Moving Up! panel. Pictured from left to right: Allison Johnson (Foxborough), Nadine Doucette (Pembroke), Janelle Madden (Dover-Sherborn), Dina Wiroll (Billerica), Catherine Donovan (Hamilton-Wenham), and Karen McGrail (JSI)
Dina Wiroll‘s introduction into school lunch occurred with a phone call to the Billerica Public Schools Nutrition Services Director, regarding her type 1 diabetic son. This eventually led her to transition from private nutrition consulting, to being the Nutrition Services Site Coordinator for the Billerica Public School System.
Finally, Catherine Donovan first earned a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Administration at the University of Massachusetts. Donovan is currently working towards a Master’s in Education Concentration in Nutrition Education at Framingham State University, and is serving her 14th year as Director of Food Services for the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District.
Professional development builds skills and advances knowledge, often allowing for career advancement. Soon, minimum professional development requirements will be established for school nutrition professionals, as outlined in the USDA’s proposed professional standards. In the Moving Up! discussion, Karen McGrail from the John C. Stalker Institute (JSI) shared the many professional development opportunities available to Massachusetts school nutrition professionals:
Professional Development for Directors
Professional Development for Managers
Professional Development for School Nutrition Staff
In addition, the JSI Resource Center provides a variety of resources for school nutrition professionals, such as nutrition training, school nutrition regulations and standards, and more.