Friday, September 30, 2016

RSU14 school nutrition program gains wider recognition - By E. Richards

The word is out – the RSU 14 School Nutrition team is worth following. A blog on Scholastic’s CHOICES IDEABOOK last week called out the district’s School Nutrition Program as one of three to watch. 
Blog author Amy Lauren Smith wrote that she came across information about the district when researching a project for her own school. “There are so many great school food programs out there, but the creative and colorful dishes from Chef Sam particularly grabbed my attention…It’s exciting to see school food being used as an opportunity to teach the community about the importance of cooking and eating whole foods,” she wrote. 

RSU14 Chef and School Nutrition & Wellness Coordinator Samantha Cowens-Gasbarro is quick to point out that the Twitter handle might be hers, but the good things happening in the district are a team effort. The support of health teachers, kitchen staff, principals and the superintendent has allowed the team to create a well rounded program district wide, she said. Things like the health class curriculum comes from the willingness of teachers and principals to have nutrition staff be a part of the education process, not just serving lunch, she added. 

Cowens-Gasbarro said she had no idea about the post until the author tagged her on Twitter. She said she was surprised, since her Twitter following isn’t huge. This kind of recognition of their efforts is an honor for the district, she said. The goal of the program is feeding kids the best possible food they can, she said, and they are lucky to have a superintendent who embraces these goals.

Social media is an important tool in communicating that what they do goes far beyond serving lunch. Cowens-Gasbarro said that if parents and community members see all the things they are doing, they can understand the goal of the program better. “We really try to educate parents and educate students on what we think is important,” she said. 

News does seem to be getting out about the district’s efforts to provide a top quality school nutrition program. This week, Director of Food Services Jeanne Reilly traveled to Washington DC to visit the White House. She was invited, along with a few others, to talk about the benefits of having a chef in the district. 

The blog post can be found at

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