Hall County Schools’ nutrition staff see more students in a day than anyone else in the school system, and Cheryl Jones realizes that.
“I love being their cheerleader because it’s a hard job,” Jones, Hall’s director of school nutrition, said. “One of the things I really love is knowing we’re serving kids and helping fuel their minds and bodies.”
Jones oversees the budget of the nutrition program, offering leadership to a team of 258 who feed a student population of 28,000.
This year, Jones is adding another role to the mix.
She has been named the Georgia School Nutrition Association president for the 2019-20 school year. Jones will represent an organization of 6,000 school nutrition professionals across the state who help provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students in Georgia.
Since 1951, the association has dedicated itself to protecting and enhancing children’s health and wellbeing through school meals and nutrition education.
Becoming the president of the association was a natural progression for Jones.
With 20 years of school nutrition experience under her belt, Jones said she felt prepared to take on the role.
While serving as president she intends to “bridge the gap” between nutrition professionals and state legislators.
“The folks in school nutrition know that what they do matters,” Jones said. “I want them to go to the Capitol and thank the legislators for supporting things here in Georgia for nutrition.”
Jones said her position as president won't have much of an impact on how she runs the nutrition program at Hall, but it will help promote staff involvement in the community.
“You don’t get paid to do this, but I do enjoy it,” she said. “Sharing expertise with membership has been positive and encouraging.”
Jones has over 10 years experience as a nutrition director, having worked in Habersham and Hall counties. Jones serves on the Georgia Department of Education Nutrition Director Advisory Council and Georgia Mountain Food Bank’s board.
When she first became a part of the nutrition program, Jones said she considered herself a “business person” and didn’t think she would fall in love with the job.
“The more I got into it, the more I realized it was like a business,” she said. “It’s a very diverse program — there’s so much to it.”
Every year the school system receives guidance from the United States Department of Agriculture. The department offers regulation on nutrient levels needed for different student age groups.
Jones said Sara Sheridan, the school’s dietitian coordinator, comes up with the schools’ menus and taste test new recipes with students.
Like Sheridan, Jones said she enjoys “celebrating feeding kids.”
Her personal mission as Hall’s nutrition director entails doing what’s best for students, properly managing the nutrition program and always making sure she’s justly utilizing taxpayer money.
“We’re so blessed to have a wonderful staff in Hall County that supports schools and managers,” Jones said. “I just think our folks in nutrition love their job and their kids, and they don’t want to hurt them in any way. It’s a giving career.”