School Nutrition Professionals: Rising Above the Everyday Challenges

Angela HaneyAngela Haney, SNS
Director of Student Nutrition
Los Lunas Schools, N.M.

Angela Haney has dedicated her career to improving the health and well-being of her entire community.
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Menu Development
When planning menus, school nutrition professionals must:

  • Understand and abide by school meal regulations, including complex nutrition standards
  • Ensure cafeterias have the necessary equipment and trained staff to prepare and safely serve each item to hundreds of students each lunch period;
  • Meet the taste preferences of increasingly diverse student bodies;
  • Stay on budget!

Beth FreemanBeth Freeman
Cafeteria Manager
Harford County Public Schools, Md.

Realizing that most students ride the bus to school and arrive with only 20 minutes to spare before the first period begins, Freeman revamped her breakfast program to center around speed.
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In the Cafeteria
School nutrition professionals who work at the "point of service" are on the frontlines of serving healthy school meals and encouraging students to embrace nutritious choices. These professionals take on a number of challenges and responsibilities including:

  • Short lunch periods: Over-crowded schools and short lunch periods leave students with limited time to select and eat their meals. Cafeteria staff work hard to have meals plated in advance or ready for quick service to minimize students' time waiting in line.
  • Food allergies: As more students suffer from food allergies, school nutrition professionals must identify potential allergens and protect affected children as they select their meals. SNA’s The State of School Nutrition 2014 survey found that schools are offering more options, such as gluten-free foods, for students with allergies and intolerances.
  • Dawn LehmannDawn Lehmann
    Foodservice Cook
    Fox C-6 School District, Mo.

    Lehmann embodies the passion and commitment of school nutrition professionals, regularly volunteering her time to assist nighttime events at her school.
    Learn more  

  • Strict food safety standards: School meal programs are required to implement a school food-safety program based on HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) principles and receive two required health/safety inspections for each school kitchen.
  • Identifying the reimbursable meal: Cashiers must ensure each student selects enough items for their meal to be eligible for a federal reimbursement. Every student must take a fruit or vegetable with their lunch and have a minimum of three meal components on their tray. Cashiers must carefully track the number of meals served and account for a la carte purchases. Speed is of the essence to prevent line delays!
  • Encouraging students to take healthier options: Cafeteria staff work hard to make healthy school meals appealing to students and the cafeteria a warm and welcoming environment. Oftentimes, staff members are heard encouraging students to try their fruits and vegetables, and many students say the biggest smiles they see all day are in the lunch line.

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National Harbor, MD 20745  

Tel (301) 686-3100
Fax (301) 686-3115

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SNA State Associations

The School Nutrition Association has a presence in every state across the country. View links to many of the state associations to find out more about what SNA is doing nationwide. 

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