Member Spotlights

September: Danielle DiCristofano

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Danielle DiCristofano is the Registered Dietitian for Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) in Chicago, Illinois. The center’s goal is to provide the kids with a “safe, secure, and caring environment with programs and structure that enhance personal development and improve opportunity for success upon return to the community” (www.cookcountyil.gov). The nutrition program at Cook County Juvenile Detention Center operates under the National School Lunch Program. When asked what her biggest challenge is at work, Danielle explains the extra layer of difficulty that she faces because all decisions she makes can impact the safety of the kids. Although uniquely challenging, Danielle's job is incredibly rewarding. Danielle shared how happy it makes her just to walk through the halls of the center.

“I love walking through the hallways and seeing the kids run up to their windows, excited to share with me their feedback on menu items or ask nutrition questions. When you’re locked up, food is sometimes what you look forward to all day. The kids get excited about food and that makes me happy that I can make their lives a little better.”

Learn more about the unique challenges of being a dietitian in the juvenile justice system and the life-changing project that Danielle has lined up for her youth at Cook County JTDC in this month's Member Spotlight.

August: Lauren Couchois

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A short two months into her new role at Greenville County Schools, Lauren Couchois and her team are reinventing their entire food service program, while still trying to maintain student favorites and community engagement. Lauren may not have a resume of global pandemic experience (who here does?), but she does have extensive experience in school nutrition to help her navigate these uncharted waters.

Learn more about fellow member, Lauren, and her school district's plan for feeding students on a complex hybrid schedule.

Read More About Lauren

July: Teresa Turner, MS, RD, LDN, SNS, FAND

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Teresa Turner, MS, RD, LDN, SNS, FAND, is the Army Child and Youth Services Nutritionist on base at Fort Meade in Maryland. She is the Food Service Manager for three child development centers, two school-age centers, and a middle school/teen center, all operating under CACFP. One short conversation with Teresa is enough to ignite thoughtful conversation, fueled by her passion for equity and justice. We talked about equity and justice in regard to food access and most simply, as humans.

The Black Lives Matters Movement and the COVID-19 Pandemic have, in a way, created the perfect storm for us. School Nutrition Programs have been able to feed all children at no cost, no identification needed. Amidst the chaos of the pandemic, the death of George Floyd sparked protests nationwide. Teresa emphasizes the importance of not only continuing the conversation but, more importantly, self-reflecting on how we can be the change every day.

Read More About Teresa

February: Melissa Halas, MA, RDN, CDE

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Melissa Halas, MA, RDN, CDE, has always had a passion for nutrition education and working with kids. She became interested in nutrition early in life due to her own personal battle with food allergies. In 2006, after years of working in clinical nutrition, she decided to launch her own website and educational materials called SuperKids Nutrition.

When talking about school nutrition, Melissa emphasized that "kids spend most of their waking hours at school. If we want to create healthier kids, communities and a thriving nation, we need to meet them where they are! Schools are like centers for the community. We know engaging parents in their child's education leads to better academic success. The same goes for good nutrition and fitness. Engaging parents and teachers about good health choices help them model good choices for their kids and students."

Melissa, who is originally from Philadelphia, lives in Pasadena, California. Her love for staying active, gardening, and cooking fuel her creativity when the pen hits the paper. Learn more about Melissa and her career in making communities healthier!

Read more about Melissa Halas' inspiring work here!

January: Lydia West, MPH, RD, LD, CC

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Lydia West, MPH, RD, LD, CC has always been at the forefront of the school food evolution. She has been covering ground, all over the country, through her work with the Mississippi Department of Education, her role on Chef Cyndie’s K-12 Culinary Team, and in her current career as an independent consultant.

Lydia is helping countless districts serve delicious and nutritious meals through innovative ideas and her passion for cooking. Join us for a fun and interesting conversation with Lydia, where we talk about the history of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, Mississippi Recipes for Success, current challenges in school nutrition programs, and self-care (even with a crazy schedule)!

Read more about Lydia West's inspiring work here!

2019

December: Livia Berg, RDN

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Livia Berg, the Nutrition Education and Marketing Specialist for Norfolk Public Schools, has always lead with her heart in serving communities and fighting against hunger. As a former AmeriCorps member and No Kid Hungry Cooking Matters Coordinator, Livia has dedicated her career to caring for others through the power of food.

This season, Livia and Norfolk Public Schools are going the extra mile to feed their community during the winter break. They will be piloting their new holiday feeding program. The NPS team recognized that the need for nutritious meals does not end when school is closed. No belly will be empty this winter, thanks to the full hearts of the Norfolk Public School's Nutrition Staff.

Read more about Livia and Norfolk’s inspiring work here!

November: Jeff Caguioa, RD, LD, SNS

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Jeff Caguioa RD, LD, SNS, who is originally from Dallas, is Chartwells' Resident Dietitian for DeSoto Independent Schools in Texas.

Jeff graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and adventurously decided to apply his studies to an international gustatory tour. His major in nutrition, minor in business, and passion for food is a triple-threat for enhancing school nutrition programs.

Learn more about Jeff and his work in Texas schools.

August: Shannon Ebron, MS, RDN, LD

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There may need to be a patent for this clever hashtag and genius concept at Fox Consolidated-6 School District in Arnold, Missouri. Shannon Ebron, MS, RDN, LD, is the Assistant Director at Fox C-6. She and her team are excited for the launch of a new manager mentorship program for the 2019-2020 school year.

Join us as we get to know Shannon and learn more about the program that can improve school nutrition programs in any district.

👉 FUN FACT: Shannon won the votes in naming the new Spoodle Report. Thanks for the fun and clever name Shannon! 👏

July: Kelley Toon, MS, RDN, LD

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Kelley Toon, MS, RDN, LD, is the Academic Nutritionist for the Georgia Department of Education. She is the first to fill this unique and much needed role. Kelley enlightens us with more details about her job and the potential future of this new and exciting position in the field of school nutrition.

Join us as we get to know Kelley and learn more about her career.

June: Katie Bambacht, RDN, LDN, SNS

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Holy cow. When did milk get such an udderly bad rap? Fears about sugar, fat-content, flavoring, intolerances, non-organic vs organic, and milk alternatives-- this is what I like to call the milk meltdown! There are many conversations and misperceptions around milk, both in the world of school nutrition and from the position as a consumer and dietitian.

We asked a fellow DPG member to clear up the air for us on a few questions that we had. Katie Bambacht, RDN, LDN, SNS, is the director of school nutrition for the National Dairy Council (NDC). Katie and her team at NDC is dedicated to translating science-based health and nutrition information so that we respond to our customers with knowledgeable answers that are supported by research. “I strive in my work to help children eat right, move more, fight hunger and provide education around sustainable practices from farm to table and the body of science supporting dairy’s role in child health and wellness.”

Get to know Katie and gain valuable knowledge from her in this month's Member Spotlight.

May: Elizabeth Campbell, MA, RDN

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Elizabeth Campbell, MA, RDN, is the Senior Director of Legislative and Government Affairs for the Academy. Liz’s passion for policy is rooted in her family, as she is the proud daughter of a father who was the president of the United Steelworkers Union. She began working for the same company that employed her father, while she studied Human Resources and Industrial Labor Relations. Liz intended on becoming a labor lawyer, until she realized that she had a natural draw towards nutrition. Her interest in policy translated to a career dedicated to expanding food access.

Liz is currently the lead of the Academy’s Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) working group. She and her team of esteemed school nutrition professionals are working together to influence congress and move the reauthorization in the right direction to protect and improve our programs. The recently release School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study is a significant supporting document in their fight. It is also an extremely beneficial tool for SFAs who need to advocate for their programs and educate the public on our improved nutritional quality of meals since the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010.

Read more about Liz and the CNR working group here.

April: Dalia Kinsey, RD, LD

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Dalia Kinsey, RD, LD, is the dietitian for Bibb County School District in Macon, Georgia. She has been an inspirational voice in the field of dietetics, supporting, encouraging, and educating others on diversity. She proudly and confidently provokes dialogue about diversity in the dietetics profession; conversations that most feel uncomfortable or too scared to discuss. She also has some very exciting news… SPOILER ALERT- she has a school nutrition podcast coming out in August 2019.

Access the full article here.

March: Cyrpress-Fairbanks Independent School Featuring Member Katie Barckholtz, MPH, RD, LD

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Katie Barckholtz, MPH, RD, LD, is the Marketing and Special Diets Coordinator at Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School, located in Harris County, Texas. Katie and her team at Cy-Fair ISD have created a food culture that is fun, innovative, and most importantly, delicious!

Between their scrumptious pork banh mi sandwiches, creatively branded department, and new hydroponic gardens, they are redefining school nutrition. Read more about Cy-Fair and Katie’s exciting role. We encourage readers to feel inspired and borrow these great ideas!

Access the full article here.

February: Jonathan Isbill

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Dietetic interns offer fresh ideas, new energy, and currency to the field of nutrition. It is especially important that we encourage students to explore the field of school nutrition, so that we too can stay current. We want school lunch to be cool right?!

Dietetic intern, Jonathan Isbill, from Ball State University, has a natural passion for school nutrition and wants to tell us all about his experience during his school nutrition rotation and his excitement for his future as a dietitian.

Check out Jonathan’s spotlight article here!

The content you are trying to view is for members of the School Nutrition Services dietetic practice group.