Nutrition Services graduates have what it takes to manage campus kitchens

Excitement filled the air at the Hexser T. Holliday Food Services Support Facility as Nutrition Services staff members gathered to celebrate the December LEAD campus kitchen training graduates.

Nutrition Services operations managers partnered with the Organization Strategy and Development team to offer leadership, education, and development training to nine candidates. They completed a series of tests over a 10-week period to demonstrate their understanding of running a school cafeteria like a business.

“The training focuses on healthy meals for students and how to make sound financial decisions,” Senior Operations Manager Keith Lewis said. “These graduates understand the connection between good food and student performance. We are proud of their commitment!”

The graduates were Phyllis Ashton, Rachel Brent, Mari Calderone, Ana Delgado, Erika Gomez Gonzalez, Lorny Gonzalez, Claudia Rodriguez, Alejandra Santana, and Iisha Williams.

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

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

The LEAD training concentrates on developing candidates to be self-sufficient leaders who are confident in all aspects of campus operations, including food safety and maintaining high HISD standards.

“We teach them about collaborating with the principal and efficiency in the workplace,” Team Lead Trainer Anna Acuña said. “However, it is their dedication to nutrition for students that makes them successful.”