School nutrition director wins national award - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

School nutrition director wins national award

THOMAS CO., GA (WALB) -

By LeiLani Golden - bio | email

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) – There's some good cooking going on at schools in Thomas County.

The School Nutrition Director earned a national award for her nutritious and creative meals.

Only six people across the country received a peer-nominated Foodservice Achievement Management Excellence awards.

Karen Green credits the hard work of her staff for overcoming the challenges at work everyday.

"So many likes and dislikes and palettes, it's just hard to please everyone at one time," she says.

So Green and her nutrition staff are getting creative with their menu planning and presentation. She won a national FAME award thanks in part to her Breakfast in the Classroom program.

"They pick up breakfast components and go to the classroom where they can talk to their peers, their teachers. It just makes a wonderful start to their day," Green explains. "We really thought everyone did it but obviously not."

"She's helping kids eat healthier and they don't even know it," adds 8th grade student Harley Stevens.

A new initiative signed by President Obama will soon require public schools to reduce meal calories and sodium while increasing fresh fruit and whole grains, something Thomas County is already doing.

"A lot of times kids say 'hmm, I don't want to try it'," Green explains. "But if we just serve a pizza with a whole grain crust they don't know it. And they eat it and they like it."

Even the prepackaged meals are full of nutritious items. From fruits and veggies to whole grain chips and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

"The kids love our PB&Js," gushes cafeteria manager Dona Hill.

But sometimes, it takes a while before students get used to a healthier food on their plate.

"We know if we introduce it to children time and time again, they're going to end up enjoying it," Green says.

And the strict portion control helps make sure they don't enjoy too much of it.

"When I have ranch at home, I eat ranch with everything," admits Stevens.

Hill adds, "We have a lot of school obesity and this might be the only meal they get during the day."

And empty plates and national awards lets them know, they're doing a good job.

Karen Green hopes parents extend the nutritious meals their kids receive at school into their homes.

They can do that by attending school nutrition workshops and by copying the menus on the school website HERE.

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