Marylyn Williams wants students who visit the cafeteria at Chavez High School to experience more than just food. She wants them to feel welcomed and at home.
As the campus cafe manager, Williams believes she is responsible not only for serving appetizing meals but also for creating an environment that influences students for the better. Each day, she said, she makes it a point to greet every student with a smile, show them respect, and offer a listening ear.
“Treat others as you would like them to treat you,” Williams said. “If you say good morning and thank you to the students, they will eventually say those same things back to you.” Continue reading →
The Houston Independent School District will be supporting relief efforts in communities across Houston by providing meals to families and individuals affected by the recent floods. Starting on Saturday, Sept. 2, HISD’s Nutrition Services will be serving breakfast, lunch and dinner free of charge at nine sites in the Houston area. The meals will be available on a first-come, first-served basis to all community members. Continue reading →
Betti J. Wiggins, HISD’s officer of Nutrition Services, was presented a 2017 Silver Plate Award by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) during the 63rd Annual Gold & Silver Plate Awards Celebration this month in Chicago.
“The month of May has been full of excitement,” said Wiggins, who officially joined the district May 15. “Not only did I begin a new role in the nation’s seventh-largest school district, but the work I have done over the years to advocate for children and their communities was recognized by my peers and others in the food service industry. This award brings it all full circle and reminds me of exactly why I come to work each and every day.” Continue reading →
The Houston Independent School District has selected Betti J. Wiggins as the district’s new officer of Nutrition Services.
Wiggins currently serves as the executive director of the office of school nutrition with the Detroit Public Schools Community District, where she is responsible for school-based meal operations in 141 schools for all USDA child nutrition programs. Under her leadership, she helped establish the Detroit School Garden Collaborative, which currently supports more than 80 school-based gardens and a two-acre school farm.
“We are excited to welcome Ms. Wiggins to Houston ISD to lead our school nutrition program,” said HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza. “She has tremendous experience in school nutrition and will help us improve our program for both students and staff as we invest in new equipment, training and menus.” Continue reading →
It’s fall in Houston, and with the season comes football and tailgate parties. HISD’s Nutrition Services department is hosting lunch-time tailgate parties every Thursday at several HISD high schools. Jones Futures Academy and Scarborough High School were the first two schools to win an all-out tailgate party where students can enjoy a meal and socialize outside the cafeteria.
HISD Research and Development Chef Tom Valdivieso has a new appreciation for what he and his fellow chefs do at the district. As a first-time father of a newborn son who will one day attend an HISD school, Valdivieso understands the importance of his role.
“We always cook with students in mind so that we can make sure they get the necessary nutrients to succeed in school,” he said. “We are trusted with their well-being.”
Valdivieso evaluates the HISD school menu as part of his job to design school meals that are delicious and healthy.
“The goal is always to satisfy students,” he said. He accomplishes this by creating recipes, testing them, and tweaking them to perfection.
While school is out for the summer, HISD nutrition services chefs are busy in the test kitchen creating and sampling new menu items for the coming school year. And what our chefs have learned from the previous year is that our students want bold flavors, fresh ingredients, and culturally diverse food.
HISD Nutrition Services was recently recognized with the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Perfect Peach Award for offering locally sourced products such as summer squash, apples and watermelon on school menus.
The state’s Local Products Challenge, which asked districts to use more Texas products in their schools, is in line with Nutrition Services’ commitment to use locally grown products on its menus so students become familiar with the agricultural diversity of the Lone Star State.
At Stevens Elementary School, HISD Chef Brittany Jones recently demonstrated how to use summer squash in a variety of fun and tasty ways. “The students enjoyed learning about spaghetti squash,” said Jones. “They never imagined they could use a vegetable in place of noodles.”
Besides fruits and vegetables, HISD also serves milk and fresh bread from Texas.
As a reward for cooking healthier at home, four Gregory Lincoln Education Center students received laptops for participating in a Nutrition Services department healthy recipe contest. Culinary arts students were challenged to bake the Nutrition Services’ sweet potato muffin recipe, which utilizes whole grain flour and real sweet potatoes.
Nutrition Services Education Dietitian Jennifer Lengyel and Gregory Lincoln’s Culinary Arts Teacher Kelly Karavias encouraged the students to integrate nutritious ingredients into a recipe that the whole family will enjoy. “Everybody likes a delicious, warm muffin,” Karavias said. “Parents like it, little kids like it.”