No Tricks, Only Treats at Boerne Middle School North!
This Halloween, I went trick or treating with Kendall County Health Inspector, Brenda Bell. No, we didn’t go door to door asking for candy.
Brenda introduced me to Cheryl Rayburg, BISD Director of Child Nutrition. Then we walked over to Boerne Middle School North for a kitchen inspection. The team at BMSN was not aware we were coming! This was not a full on inspection, as the school had just received a visit from The Health Department and passed with flying colors. This was not an actual alert, but a test, a chance for me to see Brenda in action. Anyone that has met Brenda knows she takes her job seriously. So she donned her white smock and Kendall County cap and away we went.
We tested food temps, hot and cold, checked the freezer, and yes, it was freezing. All the time, Brenda was pointing out exactly how an inspection is carried out. Cheryl was right there with us, taking notes.
Mary, the BMSN Cafeteria Manager, and her crew were very helpful. I’ll tell you, this team does a great job. Everything was spotless, organized and fresh. The fruit trays were so tempting. We were there on chicken day, one of the more popular. And no, there were no free samples, darn it.
The relationship between Cheryl and Brenda is simply amazing. Two professionals taking their positions seriously, working together for the benefit of our children. I came away very impressed, and well, a bit hungry, as this was not your parents’ school cafeteria, or mine, for that matter.
I sat down with Cheryl, a Boerne High grad, and talked nutrition.
Her eyes were lit up during our conversation, and she was more than passionate about what the district puts on the menu.
Cheryl has been with the district for 34 years. When she started there were four schools and 16 employees. Today, there are 12 campuses and 55 employees under the banner of child nutrition!
During the first 11 years, there were no health inspections. When Cheryl took over, her first assignment was to get inspections performed. Before counties were responsible for heath inspections, it was handled by the state. Kendall County’s first inspector was actually a retired dentist, not a sanitarian. Unless there was a complaint, there was no inspection.
The landscape has really changed during Cheryl’s tenure. Prior to 2004, The Texas Education Agency, headed by John Perkins, was in charge of school nutrition. Mostly the focus was on the basic food groups: meat, bread, milk, fruit and vegetables. And plenty of deep fryers.
Along came Susan Combs in 2004. She moved school nutrition programs under the Texas Department of Agriculture. Susan was set on reducing sodium, adding red and green vegetables, along with legumes and had just the plan to accomplish that over the next four years. She also focused on adding whole grains to menus. Salad bars were added under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, and the kids loved them.
After Susan Combs left office, Sid Miller tried to reintroduce fryers; the school districts across the state said “no!”
There is so much more to all this than keeping the kitchen clean and planning a menu. The job also calls for an understanding of nutrition, knowledge of facilities and preparing meals that are healthy and reimbursable by the state.
BISD has 33 Certified Food Managers across the district.
Two are required for each school, so once again BISD is ahead of the game. Every employee must have a “Food Handler” license. That requires a basic two hour test and costs ten dollars.
A Certified Food Manager is required to do eight hours of education plus a test. The cost is $125.00. Beginning in 2015, all child nutrition employees are required to take continuing education classes: six hours for employees, 10 for managers and 12 hours for directors.
I asked Cheryl if there was anything she wanted or needed.
She laughed a little laugh and said, “ I hope and wish that parents and students embrace the districts meals and nutrition plans.”
With her eyes shinning, she told me about fully nutritional lunches with only 560 calories. And using apple sauce instead of fat.
Oh, and strawberries. She would feed every kid strawberries everyday if possible. Loaded with vitamin C and a real cold fighter.
As I returned to my car, thinking about Brenda and Cheryl, their commitment to health and safety, that old George Jones song popped into my head. “Whose gonna fill their shoes?”