By DAVID GREEN
Fayette food services director Sue Repp never before applied for the state Department of Education’s Stellar Award for Best Nutrition Practices, at least not until last year.
Now she knows the school has a stellar cafeteria service—one of the few honored in Ohio.
In Repp’s eyes, the award serves as a great validation of the food program. Parents and students alike can see they’re doing the right thing, she said.
Twenty-two food service programs were awarded in 2009, the seventh year of the Stellar Award.
The award is based on six categories that show evidence of a healthy school nutrition environment.
• Type of meal service: In addition to the traditional school lunch, Fayette began serving breakfast when the move was made to the new school building. After-school snacks are also served to students participating in the 21st Century program.
• Quality of meals: This includes following protocol established by the national Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
• Availability of healthy choices in á la carte items and in vending machines.
• Continuing education for staff.
• Efforts made to provide a pleasant eating environment.
• Nutrition education and activities that target students, staff and the community.
In that last category especially, Repp receives help from Audra Roesti and Gina Veres of the county health department.
“I get a lot of support from them,” Repp said. “They bring in ideas for food and training. They’re just on top of what’s out there.”
Repp, who chairs the school’s committee, continually looks for new ideas.
“I attend as many wellness and healthy kids meetings as a can,” Repp said. “I go over the ideas with the staff and we try to implement them.”
Repp has taken a special approach with the elementary school. She spoke with principal Dr. LuAnn Boyer about setting up a food council to work on menu changes.
The elementary student council—Bailee Smith, Grant Reinking, Travis Wagner and Joslin Miller from the fourth grade; Jason Stuckey, Jennaya Hibbard, Austin Lopez and McKenzee Schaffner from the fifth grade; and Garrett Reinking, Taylor Griffiths, Mackalyn Figgins, Emilie Keiser, Valerie Nofziger and Kaela Seiler from the sixth grade—fill the role.
They created survey sheets and went into the classroom with samples of new food items. Repp has seen good results with the taste tests.
“They go out and see what people think,” she said. “It really helps.”
She intends to extend that concept to junior high and eventually to high school.
Repp intends to keep the food healthy while also keeping it interesting.
“I like to give the kids a variety and I like to try new things,” she said.