Tasting new food, good behavior, friendliness, caring, listening, manners and getting along with others are among the lessons child nutrition staff teach every day, according to Chef Helen Duran, who serves as the culinary trainer for the district.
This is why cafeteria workers are an important part of the CISD great teaching core value, Duran said.
“We are also often the only people in the school that see every student every day,” Duran said. “This gives us the opportunity to be a bright spot and connect with the students we serve.”
Duran shared this philosophy and the role that cafeteria workers have in great teaching as part of the child nutrition staff training held before school started in August.
“I wanted our team to know that they do so much more than what is printed on a menu,” Duran said. “Food is a great connector and allows for so many teachable moments.”
These teaching opportunities include connecting school gardens to the food that is served in the cafeteria through Farm Fresh Fridays. School gardens also provide opportunities for partnerships with a variety of subjects ranging from science to language arts.
“Our gardens provide an opportunity to learn cultivation, as well as an appreciation of nature,” Duran said.
For many students, lunch is often their favorite subject.
“I love being part of our kids' lunchtime, which for many is the best part of their day,” Estrella “Star” Primera, food services manager at Town Center Elementary said. “I love talking to the children, asking what’s going on in their lives and making them laugh.”
Duran said she challenged child nutrition workers to great teachers for CISD students.
“We are in a unique position to do so much for our kids beyond feeding them nutritious food each day,” Duran said. “We teach life skills and how food can be fun and provide joy in their day.”