Child Nutrition employees deserve praise for all on their plates

Between preparing healthy food, adhering to strict nutrition standards, navigating student food allergies, and offering service with a smile, Child Nutrition Department employees have a lot on their plate. Their effort is being honored throughout Northside during Child Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week, May 1-5.

In Northside, approximately 1,250 Child Nutrition employees serve over 110,000 meals a day and over 21 million meals each year. The importance and nutritional value of school meals is well documented. For many students, school meals are the most important and nutrient-rich meal of their day.

“Child Nutrition Department employees must balance many roles and follow numerous federal, state and local regulations to ensure safe and healthy meals are available in schools. Child Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week provides the opportunity for schools and communities to honor these hardworking essential employees,” said Thomas Wherry, Child Nutrition Director.

Hatchett staff with banner

Hatchett ES created a special banner honoring their cafeteria staff during Child Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week.

Federal nutrition standards ensure that school cafeterias always offer low-fat or fat-free milk, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein.  School meals also meet limits on calories, sodium and unhealthy fats.  Visit the department’s website to view menus for elementary and secondary levels.

In addition to breakfast and lunch during the school year, Northside offers feeding programs during the summer months and in March opened two school cafeterias to serve students during Spring Break.

Cafeteria managers and staff also make special efforts to educate the students on their campuses by offering tours of the kitchen and even preparing food together. Meadow Village ES cafeteria manager Ragan Varela helped fifth grade students bake carrot cupcakes with carrots harvested from the school garden.

Meadow Village ES manager Ragan Verela helped students bake carrot cupcakes with carrots from the school garden. 

Staff also helps celebrate special occasions whether it is preparing green eggs and ham in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, dressing up to serve a rodeo-themed breakfast on Western Day, or serving strawberry milk as a nod to the Poteet Strawberry Festival.

Mary Hull ES cafeteria staff dressed up for rodeo day breakfast

Mary Hull ES cafteria staff dressed up in rodeo attire to serve a Rodeo Day breakfast.

Northside’s Child Nutrition Department is a model program and recently hosted a visitor from Scotland who oversees child nutrition at 73 schools. After observing breakfast and lunch at Martin ES and Brennan HS, Alistair McIntryre was impressed with the variety and quality of entrees available to students and the amounts of fruits and vegetables served. The visit was arranged by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Visitor with Martin staff and NIC

Martin ES cafeteria staff welcomed Alistair McIntrye from Scotland. Also joining them was the department's mascot, Northside NIC.

Individuals interested in joining the Child Nutrition Department should visit the Human Resources Department’s Jobs website and search for postings for Food Service Workers and Food Service Manger Trainees.