Food is a big consideration for every school district, but feeding over 108,000 students at over 110 different schools is a titanic task. Cobb's Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) does this daily with high-quality meals akin to a restaurant while also focusing on customer service, cleanliness, and value.
David's guest on today's episode of The Inside Scoop is Emily Hanlin, Executive Director of FNS for Cobb Schools. They discuss various aspects of the District's nutrition program, including the scale of the operation, how the school lunch program has evolved, and the challenges of meeting federal guidelines while making food appealing and tasty.
Ms. Hanlin seeks to promote a farm-to-school movement, which means local sourcing is critical. FNS has created partnerships with local farmers to enable the serving of seasonal produce and to educate students about the origins of the food they consume. They've also introduced creative cooking methods and embraced student feedback through taste-testing to improve the meals and snacks being served.
Other interesting topics addressed during the wide-ranging conversation are food waste, accessibility and transparency, and allergen information. Payment options and the confidential process for families to apply to free or reduced-price meal programs are also explained.
Ms. Hanlin further mentions that FNS is always looking for motivated individuals to join their team. Although a culinary degree is not required, a passion for both serving and children is essential.