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HISD Nutrition Services LEAD program produces dedicated graduates

2021 May 4
by HISD Communications

At Northline Elementary School, energetic students rumpled their breakfast bags and laughed with each other while gathering in the cafeteria to line up for class.

The lively breakfast scene is not unusual. In fact, Mayra Flores had witnessed it hundreds of times before. But this time, it signified the start of a new chapter for the newly promoted Nutrition Services team lead.

“I have earned the opportunity to use my leadership skills in this cafeteria as a Team Lead,” Flores said. “I am proud and ready to put into practice all that I learned.”

Flores was one of 10 Nutrition Services employees to graduate from Nutrition Services’ latest LEAD — Leadership, Education and Development — Program. Beginning in February, the 10-week program offered class instruction combined with on-the-job cafeteria management experience.

Program completion was celebrated virtually. Other graduates include Genita Bennett, Breanna Busby, Mariah Gibson, Brina Hodges, Nadia Huerta, Precious Jiles, Tynisha Johnson, Jaleesa Reedy, and Maria Reyes. 

Together, they represented one high school, three middle schools, and six elementary schools.

Each employee was recommended for the program by Nutrition Services operations managers. Once in the program, the candidates undergo a series of tests to demonstrate their understanding of running a cafeteria like a business.

During the first two weeks of the program, trainees participated in virtual classes, building leadership skills with role-playing sessions. For the remaining eight weeks, they reported to different cafeterias, where they were immersed in hands-on training for food ordering, inventory auditing, and budgeting.

“This experience was something they all chose to make a positive impact on students,” Nutrition Services Officer Betti Wiggins said during the graduation ceremony. “I commend all our new Team Leads for their hard work, commitment, and dedication. I’ll see you in the kitchen!”

As part of the program, the candidates learned district procedures for creating and serving good food while maintaining compliance with federal and state food regulations.

“It’s a rigorous program, and we are proud of our graduates,” Nutrition Services Senior Operations Manager Keith Lewis said. “They are living proof that success is about being focused on your goals. They are going to be phenomenal.”

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