Gainesville City Schools’ nutrition program was recently recognized as the recipient of the 2016 U.S. Department of Agriculture Southeast Regional Best Practice Award in the areas of food safety and use of social marketing for school nutrition program.
The USDA requires that all schools have a food safety plan implemented based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point. To better prepare staff and ensure the safety of students, the Gainesville schools’ nutrition program has developed a review procedure similar to a health inspection, which is conducted monthly.
Teresa Wiley, Gainesville schools nutrition program training manager/supervisor, created a review document to perform inspections of each school. The USDA recognized the inspection process used by Wiley as a “best practice” in the successful implementation of a food safety plan and sound departmental processes.
“As the director and a past manager, I have worked alongside Teresa Wiley to implement a procedure in each kitchen that is similar to a health inspection. This procedure reflects federal, state and local requirements and has over the past year earned all kitchens a 100 perfect score on health inspections,” said Penny Fowler, Gainesville schools director of school nutrition. “This would have not been possible without the help of our food assistants, managers and Mrs. Wiley. I am so proud of them and the hard work they do each day.”
In addition, the school nutrition program believes that marketing to the student customers is just as important as the food served in the cafeteria. In August 2013, the “Lunch Bites” newsletter was launched across the school district. Each month, the issue highlights school nutrition employees and school nutrition’s involvement within the district, such as sticker day, taste testing and Farm 2 School events.
The monthly newsletter also brings awareness regarding updates to the school nutrition program at the federal and state level, along with important nutrition information for a healthy lifestyle. Emily House, Gainesville schools nutrition coordinator, has been instrumental in creating the newsletters and in marketing the school nutrition program.