How long have you been an SNA member, and why is school nutrition important to you?

I have been an SNA member for 25 years. It’s important to me that students have access to nutritious foods that will fuel them to learn. I also want to be sure we provide excellent service to district and school staff, as well as to students.

What motivated you to choose this profession?

It was my personal passion for cooking and feeding students. I started my career in 1985 in a small Greek/American school, employed as a cook. I worked my way up the school nutrition ladder over the years.

What career highlights give you the greatest pride?

I am so proud of how we have all adapted to the new normal of life with COVID-19. Feeding families in need during this pandemic makes all other accomplishments pale in comparison! That said, I do want to credit the years I spent serving on both the School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts and the national SNA Boards of Directors for helping me to grow as a professional. The training and experiences I gained through that service have been invaluable.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever heard?

There are two things that have stuck with me. The first is the importance of staying relevant in the education profession. The second is to always stay above the fray and stand up for what I believe.

If you could have any magical power, what would it be?

I would wave my wand (or hands) and create universal meals for all students! I believe that school nutrition is an integral part of the school day and should be available to all children as part of public education. I’d use my magic to make sure there is equity for all students and that no child would ever be singled out for needing to be on the free program. School meals should be an experience where all students learn good eating habits.

What would include in a time capsule to be opened in 100 years?

I would love to include pictures of how school lunch has evolved over the years, how we handled this pandemic and how school nutrition folks have been on the front lines feeding kids without hesitation.

What’s you favorite way to spend a day off?

Spending time at the beach with my better half, going for a walk, hanging out with my grandchildren and children and watching a Sunday football game.

What would be the first thing you’d do if you won the lottery?

I’d fly to the island of Crete, bringing my grandchildren with me for a month. We’d tour all of Greece together!

What are your goals for the current school year? What about for the next five year?

I want to keep feeding all our children the best we can, doing my part during these unprecedented times. I plan to retire within the next five years and spend time with my husband and travel. But before I retire, I want to train, mentor and help the next generation of directors. There are some things about school nutrition they can learn from books and classes but I want to encourage them to use their instinct and desire to do what is best for the children.

Gail Koutroubas

Gail Koutroubas

Director of Food and Nutrition Services

Andover, Massachusetts

Andover Public Schools