(L-R) Becki Schreiber, Kayla Steverson, Susan Wood

(L-R) Becki Schreiber, Kayla Steverson, Susan Wood

Before Kayla Steverson became child nutrition program manager for Oklahoma’s Newcastle Public Schools in 2017, she worked as a clinical dietitian.  Although she enjoyed the change, Kayla felt there was much to learn to feel confident in her child nutrition position.

Kayla comes from a very small school district that does not have a budget to support a week-long training event in Oxford, Mississippi.  When she saw an opportunity to receive travel reimbursement through the Paul Schmitz Child Nutrition Scholarship to attend Orientation to School Nutrition Management at ICN on June 10-14, 2019, she submitted her application.

“Before getting this job at the beginning of the 17-18 school year, I worked as a clinical dietitian. Although I have enjoyed the change, it has been a huge learning curve.

I want to continue as a nutrition director, but I also have so much to learn to feel confident that I am doing extremely well in my position. My boss, the CEO of the school, does a lot right now for our department (hence my formal title is not “nutrition director” yet). He handles most of the finances and is teaching me as we go along. I have learned SO much since starting in this position, but every time I turn around there is something else I haven’t quite gotten down yet. I believe that Orientation to School Nutrition Management would help me become the knowledgeable, successful child nutrition director I want to be.”

Orientation to School Nutrition Management is a 4 ½ day training session for new and aspiring directors that provides an overview of the management components of school nutrition programs.

Kayla said what she found most useful in the session was information about financial management, role of the director, operations management, and farm-to-school.  She wished she had attended this training two years ago when she was learning to be a director.  “We received some state training, but it was not as comprehensive as this one.  I know that Orientation to School Nutrition Management is kind of the gold standard.  I talked with my new boss who is familiar with ICN’s training and he said…Yes.  This is the training to go to.”

 “Everything has been amazing.  There have been lots of activities and teamwork that kept it really interesting and fun.  The instructors are so sweet and approachable, and I would say the same thing about the whole staff here.  We have gotten to meet the ICN executive director.  The Institute’s staff has  been the definition of southern hospitality, as I have never experienced before.  Everyone who works for ICN has been very present during the training.  They made us all feel very welcome.”

Before Kayla traveled to ICN, she accepted a new position.  Beginning in August, she will be the Child Nutrition Supervisor at Edmond Public Schools in Oklahoma. Kayla will report directly to the child nutrition director and will oversee the nutrition programs in a third of the schools in the district.  She believes that the knowledge that she gained this week will be extremely helpful in her new position.

Thank you to the Paul Schmitz Child Nutrition Scholarship that was established through the University of Mississippi Foundation to award travel reimbursement scholarships to professionals employed in a federal, state, or local child nutrition program from the USDA Southwest Region to attend a training session provided by ICN.