Sunday, February 25, 2018
Education

School nutrition professionals go beyond the daily lunch menu

BROOKSVILLE — The Hernando County School Nutrition Association is a group of about 150 members and is the local branch of the National School Nutrition Association.

"It's a professional organization that supports the endeavors of school food service professionals," said Lori Drenth, the Hernando County School District's food and nutrition services director.

"We try to do things locally to support and show the public that school nutrition professionals care about students and what goes on in our community," Drenth said. "We do fundraisers. We do yard sales (and) pasta sales to raise funds to support graduates interested in food service or nutrition fields."

The group has also recently been selling cookbooks.

Students interested in the scholarship opportunity can apply through their guidance counselors or culinary arts teachers. Drenth said the organization tries to award at least two $500 scholarships a year. Past recipients, she said, wanted to attend the famed culinary school Johnson and Wales, go into medicine or even biochemistry.

Besides providing scholarships through fundraising, Drenth said, the association sponsors training and professional certification in nutrition, safety and sanitation. The Florida School Nutrition Association puts out a publication, and the local groups contribute to the "Chapter Chatter" section.

The association's president is Fran Thomas, Chocachatti Elementary food and nutrition services assistant manager. The president-elect, who takes office July 1, is Beverly Dube-O'Looney, a Winding Waters K-8 food nutrition assistant. The treasurer/secretary is Winding Waters K-8 food and nutrition services manager Jackie Nelson. The certification chairwoman is Diana Bartlett, West Hernando Middle School food and nutrition services assistant manager.

The scholarship committee coordinator is Jennifer Patrick, Moton Elementary's food and nutrition services assistant manager. Patti White is the chapter reporter for the Florida Food Services publication; she is Fox Chapel Middle School's food and nutrition services manager. Carol Monroe, a West Hernando Middle School food nutrition assistant, collects dues.

Drenth is the local chapter's adviser.

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