Athens, Ga. – School nutrition managers from all across Georgia are participating in a week-long training program called Culinary Institute I this week and next week at Dawson Hall.
The program, directed by FACS foods and nutrition clinical assistant professor Tracey Brigman, is sponsored by the Georgia Department of Education and is in its 24th year.
The week-long workshop focuses on teaching school nutrition managers new culinary techniques specific to the preparation of healthy school meals, ensuring they are knowledgeable about any updates to the federal School Nutrition Program guidelines and training them on healthy eating habits and portion control.
“The program helps to advance the well-being of the participants by teaching them healthy eating habits they can bring back to their schools and teach to children,” Brigman said.
The program accepts 20 participants each week, and is open to every county in the state.
Brigman has led the program for the past 10 years, and said it is very beneficial for school nutrition managers because it is taught in the “train the trainer” format.
One of the goals of the program is to provide school nutrition managers with the necessary tools to train others in their district, she added.
Since federal guidelines related to the School Nutrition Program are ever-changing, Culinary Institute I is an opportunity for school nutrition managers to learn about how these guidelines change how they do their jobs.
The managers also utilize the ChooseMyPlate website to analyze their own diets in order to determine where they can make improvements for a healthier lifestyle.
Aside from being educated on federal guidelines, participants also learn how to follow recipes to ensure correct nutrient content and are taught how to identify healthy behaviors that may improve personal wellness habits.
Brigman noted these skills are essential because school nutrition managers can be one of the biggest role models for children when it comes to making healthy food choices.
Another plus for participants is being able to connect with other school nutrition managers from around the state.
“This was a lifelong dream for me,” said Clarence Martin, cafeteria manager at Campbell Elementary School in Atlanta’s Fulton County Schools. “You really got a chance to see what some of the issues that pop up in school nutrition are and why we do what we do. We also got a chance really to bond and get a lot of information from other schools. It’s really been amazing."
To view a photo gallery of the workshop, visit the FACS Flickr page here.
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