It’s been a busy but wonderful year at Tahlequah Public Schools. Our Child Nutrition Team faced their first full audit review since federal program regulations changed dramatically three years ago. This review encompasses every aspect of the program, from nutrient analysis of menus to a full financial audit. I am pleased to report that our team was found to be one-hundred percent compliant with federal regulations and that there were zero negative findings in any area of the review. Congratulations to the thirty-eight culinary professionals who serve our children throughout the school year. What a positive testament to their abilities and the care they give our young community members each day!
Child Nutrition has seen tremendous growth again this year. Three years ago when USDA changed the program in an effort to fight obesity, many nutrition teams across the nation struggled to keep students interested in participating in meal programs. The regulations restricted serving sizes and changed cooking methods, to include lowering sodium levels and requiring every grain served to be whole-grain. Like so many other programs, our meal counts in Tahlequah Public Schools were affected and the program suffered as a result. But we’re back! Counts have risen significantly and the program is robust once again. Our cooks have worked tirelessly to ensure that regulatory requirements were met, while learning new cooking techniques and mastering new recipes that make their meals appealing to young palates. The team continues to prepare both kid-friendly and nutritious meals, with an emphasis on scratch cooking. It is such a pleasure to walk into a school cafeteria and smell fresh baked bread and enticing spices.
Many of our Child Nutrition Team members have been with the district for years. At the end of this school year, we say goodbye to some of our school family members as they leave us for the retirement world. A special thanks goes out to Donna Crow, Heritage Kitchen Manager; Donna Tavener, Heritage Cafeteria Secretary; Glenda Green, Sequoyah Kitchen Manager; Rita Johnson, Greenwood Baker; and Teresa Savage, Middle School dishwasher. All of these team members have worked in various culinary roles throughout the years and they leave us with a powerful legacy – They cared about kids and nurtured them with love.
As summer draws near, we look forward to continued growth in the coming year. We will welcome new team members and know that they will bring renewed energy and spice to our wonderful program. But it is bittersweet, as we must say goodbye to seasoned friends and their exceptional culinary knowledge and performance. They will be missed!
Our ultimate goal is to reach all students through school meals, ensuring that they receive the strong nutritional base needed to sustain effective learning. As another school year comes to a close, the Child Nutrition Team wants to thank the Tahlequah community for its continued support. It is a pleasure to serve your children each day. The kids may be the “youngsters”, but their energy, enthusiasm, and joy keep our team young as well. If you haven’t eaten at a school for a while, come join us. We’d love to see you. We value your opinion and your patronage. Yea Team!