The national, non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) has named Carol Barker, child nutrition director for the Auburn School District, the Northwest regional Director of the Year.
The award recognizes the extraordinary contributions of school nutrition directors who manage effective school meal programs providing healthy, appetizing meals to students.
For more than three decades, Barker has been dedicated to making sure students have access to healthy meals at school and beyond. Through her persistent efforts to continue expanding the Summer Meal Program, about 50,000 meals are now provided to children in 35 locations throughout the district. Barker has used various channels to promote school foodservice and improve access to meals, including partnering with the public library bookmobile to assist parents with meal benefit applications and attending community events such as street fairs and farmer’s markets in the district.
Barker has implemented several breakfast initiatives, including “Breakfast in the Courtyard,” which doubled student participation in one middle school; “Breakfast After the Bell,” which resulted in a 25 percent increase in another middle school; and “Second Chance Breakfast,” which doubled the number of students who ate breakfast at the high school from 375 to 750.
Holding periodic taste tests has helped increase lunch participation. Barker works to get students involved in the decision-making process in the cafeteria, having them try potential new items to help determine the high school menu.
In 2016, Barker developed “Recipe for Success,” a monthly training program for staff interested in becoming managers. She has made staff training and continued education fun, creating a different theme each year. Last year’s theme, “Walk a Mile in My Shoes,” focused on effective staff communication and this year’s “Pudding Kids First” is about the importance of customer service. She covers various topics in training, everything from menu creation, production records and portion sizes to order processing, recipe development, production and interview skills.
Outside of school nutrition staff, Barker collaborates with school principals to initiate new serving ideas and engages physical education teachers to host health-related programs. Barker has also worked with the Washington School Nutrition Association to testify before the legislature, advocate for school meal programs and stay informed on the latest policy and legislation being considered.
“Carol Barker is truly dedicated to her students’ welfare and the education and training of her staff and community,” said SNA President Lynn Harvey, EdD, RDN, SNS. “Her efforts have ensured that more students in her district have access to healthy breakfast each school day and nutritious meals year-round.”
The regional Director of the Year Award was created to recognize school nutrition directors who exhibit an extraordinary commitment to their school meal programs. The directors are responsible for maintaining the quality of the program through student interaction, menu planning and a commitment to serving nutritious, tasty and well-balanced school meals. Through effective oversight of all aspects of foodservice operations, including budgeting, staffing, training, marketing and community outreach, school nutrition directors ensure the overall success of school meal programs.
In July, Barker will be honored during the Red Carpet Awards Ceremony at the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference in Las Vegas, Nev.
About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, nonprofit professional organization representing 57,000 school nutrition professionals across the country. Founded in 1946, SNA and its members are dedicated to making healthy school meals and nutrition education available to all students. For more information on school meals, visit SchoolNutrition.org/SchoolMeals.