Deborah Taylor, RDN/LD, SNS is a long time school nutrition professional. She has spent over 20 years working to bring healthy food to kids in public schools. She has won awards, been recognized nationally and recently was given the Distinguished Alumna Award from her Alma Mater.
Mathea Ford: [00:00:28] Hey there! It’s Mathea. Welcome back to Nutrition Experts Podcast. The podcast featuring nutrition experts who are leading the way using food starts today right now with our next guest. It’s great to have Deborah Taylor on the show today. Deborah, welcome to Nutrition Experts. I’m excited to have you on the show and share your expertise with my tribe.
Deborah Taylor: [00:00:48] Thank you! I love getting the chance of getting to be here. I am a registered dietitian and I’m Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist. It is a great field and I’ve gotten have a lot of fun in it.
Mathea Ford: [00:01:00] Yes! So, we’re going to talk today about school nutrition but I want you to start with telling my listeners a little more about yourself and what you do and I know you have a long career. So feel free to call it more about you.
Deborah Taylor: [00:01:16] Okay. Thank you. I went back to college as a grown up that my husband was in was drafted into the military back in the day. So, that tells you how old I am. And after him being in the service for three years then he said one day hey I think you should go to college with me. And it’s like “Whoa! We can’t afford that.” And he said “we’ve lived on so little money for so long I think we should try.” Best gift he ever gave me and obviously financially it was that great. It was a nice thing for the two of us too. So, we started at Oklahoma State University and yeah go pokes! And again we kind bleed orange around here. Excellent dietetic program that was called [00:02:04] Feds [0.2] Nutrition and Institution Administration. The hotel and restaurant… They had the Hotel and Restaurant Administration degree at the same place. So I got to learn. We all learn that as a dietitian. We learn that service management. And I got to have that kind of creativity that can that sometimes hotel folks, restaurant folks have that sometimes those of us that are trained more institutionally we lack. And for me that’s been a big help. I’ve fed kids. Different jobs I’ve had because we moved a lot was at the beginning. I’ve fed kids at Oklahoma State University but also at Texas Christian University down in Fort Worth. And I think that college and university feeding is a really fun place to do food service management if you know people haven’t thought about that. The deal was it didn’t have anything to do with nutrition and that also… Anyway, I ended up taking I’ve said I’ve done some things with long term care facilities and things but and I’ve been a research dietitian when were in Louisiana. That was fun for a little brief period. And my favorite job was working with family practice residents in [00:03:24] Port Barre. [0.4]
Deborah Taylor: [00:03:25] With that job then I worked out to work out of an office working with patients who were sometimes low standard readers. They were mainly poor and I got to use my Spanish which was fun. And then I also got to keep up with the real in-depth things because I was the nutrition resource person for the family practice residence. It’s a job like for me I could have done that my whole life and been very rewarded and fulfilled with my career path. But we moved again. So, though after a couple of places we ended up in the Oklahoma City area specifically in Shawnee at that I was working with Weick and enjoyed that and had been doing it for nearly a year. And I got a phone call asking me to apply at Chinese schools to be their food service director and I said “oh that sounds like fun” and in two or three years maybe when my youngest at that time was 4 years old and I knew what food service management careers were like. They’re all encompassing. They said “oh these jobs come open very often. The lady that’s retiring right now was there twelve years and the one before that was 18 years.” And I said “Oh! Well, I guess I can apply.” And so I applied and I was the one that was given the position. And I ended up being at Shawnee Schools then running their food service operations for 22 years. After 22 years then Oklahoma City Schools called and asked if I would apply there. They had decided to move back to self op from self operations from a food service management company. They then hired Kevin Ponce from Mid-Del school and Nate from Shawnee school. Nate is the director and I was the associate director and I did that for four years and then I just retired from school. So I don’t feel retired yet at all. And I will be looking to doing teaching and training things continuing that part of what I do with my life. So having to do with school. So, school nutrition is a very intense and different field that it is a great place for registered dietitian.
Mathea Ford: [00:06:00] I have you know I’m a food service dietitian too. I went to see huge food service school and food service on cooking. So, I know that while you’re at Shawnee you have special recognition with some of the Michelle Obama Initiative. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Deborah Taylor: [00:06:22] My program in about 2006 I believe was featured in Time Magazine as one of the ones who followed all the rules, did not take money from outside sources and did a better job than what we had to do nutrition wise. And then when Michelle Obama was writing her book American Grown then my Farm to School Program there at Shawnee was featured on a whole page of her book American Grown is one of the stories of one of the things that we did with farm to school and Shawnee schools. In 2014 my favorite award because it’s so not in school nutrition where I’m with people that know me and know they can actually grade and judge what I’m doing in my field. I was chosen by Oklahoma State University my college there as I got the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Deborah Taylor: [00:07:31] And that was a very big surprise to me and it was a nice verification that school meals are important. And that the work that I had in doing was important and was perceived as important by the people that provided that education for me in the first place. So, I was also District Director of the Year for the State of Oklahoma. And that then I was awarded that award also for the region which is a 6A Region. I was in the right place in the right time. And I look at other dietitians and go see it was a good thing to be doing. When you get out of this state like Oklahoma let’s say in Georgia. Georgia is a prime example of that wonderful things in school nutrition services. Every daddy is a director has to have a master’s degree or be a registered dietitian. So… But they also have school districts that are the entire county and not all these little bitty school districts like we have.
Mathea Ford: [00:08:40] You know you kind of sit there at the end. But I think it’s really important to acknowledge that you love what you’re doing. we all we all have friends about different things and you are passionate about school food service in school. And those kids get them try new things. I always say “thank goodness for the way they do. School Nutrition because my kids tried a variety of foods and now they come home and I have hand them on the plate or whatever and go eat it.
Deborah Taylor: [00:09:13] Yes.
Mathea Ford: [00:09:13] Instead of me having to throw all through that. They saw their friends eat it. They saw their peers eat it. They thought “Oh! I can try it.” But they did learn to like it.
Deborah Taylor: [00:09:24] I was too busy buying food, planning menus, hiring peopl, training people, making, running the big food service operation. And then the hidden part of school nutrition is all the governments. It’s a huge government program. So you have free in latest mail application and you have computer systems that you have to buy that you have to train your people on that keep kids in categories. You’ve got all of the big stuff going on. So, as I thought when I took the job. “Oh and that’ll be able to do nutrition education with these kids and go in the classroom” or you know I just had this idea that I’d be able to do actual nutrition education with kids. In 22 years, I had three days that I got into classrooms and about three days. I mean that’s like nothing right? It’s because the job is so huge. I did my level best with the actual foods that I was buying that I was providing for them then that’s how I feel like I got to provide nutrition education to all of the kids in Shawnee.
Mathea Ford: [00:10:44] So, I know you did some other wonderful things in Oklahoma City. So, specifically, you got some grants to provide a free meals. So, can talk a little bit about that?
Deborah Taylor: [00:10:57] A big huge part of the Federal Child Nutrition Program is that we provide meals at no charge to kids who don’t we have very much money. And so in order to do that most of your school districts out there the kids every year as part of the enrollment process are there is a application for free and reduced meals. And it’s a family application now. Several years ago as part of the Paperwork Reduction Act then the government folks started looking at all of these free and reduced meal applications that they have to be done every year from scratch starting over. It is a huge amount of paperwork. And then every single time a child walks in and gets a meal then we have to count that child. And what category they’re in. In order to claim reimbursement for those meals. So, there we had these huge paperwork and computer requirements and that’s what we’re audited on. Nobody ever audited me on how good that feed was. How much the kids were eating? How they set the ball. The different things that I did were. Well, that is part of the auditing process at all. Several others said “why why do we have to do all this?” So, because the poorest kids are the ones that were trying to make sure have food. Then they came up with with a provision that is called Community Eligibility Provision. Also named CEP. Now those of you guys that have been in the know so we work that with school nutrition we’ve had provision 1, 2 and 3 as the options since the late 1990s I believe. They are there and that they help the little bit. This originally was called provision 4. Nobody knew that we had 1, 2 and 3 so they they gave the name Community Eligibility Provision.
Deborah Taylor: [00:13:04] And the idea is that if you have kids who are getting things like SNAP benefits, [00:13:13] Tanaiste benefits, [1.2] Indian Commodities Food PIR or FDPIR depending on your tribe. Their families have already provided and done a lot of paperwork in order to get that. So, if your community when by your community we start with the individual school site. If your school site has at least 40 percent of the kids in that building that get that benefits or one of these other government benefits then you can apply for these Community Eligibility Provision and and stop doing the free and reduced meal applications and start keeping track of each child by category. So that is what Community Eligibility Means. It means that the community that you’re providing to already has shown that it’s poor enough to have to provide all of the meals at no charge. And then what you do it’s like a game and I do love games. And so you begin, you are allowed then to combine school sites together and your reimbursement is based on how many of your kids get SNAP benefits and the other benefits that fall into this. The majority are the SNAP benefits and then how many then you can get as many school sites together as possible and you can do it a year allowed it. Any school district can do it. That means that 40 percent requirement in the first place that you have to decide “can I afford to do it?” To me it never made any difference to the child I was feeding. If their daddy was a millionaire it didn’t matter if they were spending a million to that they mainly because of health problems or whatever that child may not have lunch money.
Deborah Taylor: [00:15:21] And then what am I supposed to do? What’s my manager supposed to do if they’ve run out of money and they are in their accounts? Then, everybody talks about shaming kids and that type of thing. It’s like “wait a minute! The way the system is set up parents have to send money or their kids don’t get to eat.
Mathea Ford: [00:15:42] What happened is you said you were able to combine schools. So, at some point you provided free meals to the entire school not just that 40 percent that qualify. Correct?
Deborah Taylor: [00:15:54] Right! Okay, so yes. So, in Oklahoma City the very first year that I was there is the first year that CEP Community Eligibility Provision was available for all of the states in the United States. They had done pilot states leading up to it. And so my first year there we got 55 of our 80 schools. We got 55 of the schools onto the Community Eligibility Provision. It was amazing. That was two thirds of our children. Then I was able to do the math, point out that I felt like we could make it financially. And we got all of the school sites on to the Community Eligibility Provision. Last year was the first year that we had that in Oklahoma City schools. So, the entire Oklahoma City School are on the Community Eligibility Provision and that means we go no kids have to fill out a free and reduced meal application. That means in Oklahoma City it’s our largest school district in Oklahoma. We had an entire building that housed Free and Reduced meal applications.
Deborah Taylor: [00:17:11] When I started working there there was a whole building that was filled with free and reduced meal applications. It was unbelievable. I mean when people don’t work in this field they would be shocked at how much paperwork this program can arrange. The only purpose in it is keeping kids in categories so that we make sure we don’t claim too much money for a child who’s maybe their family makes 80,000 a year and the cutoff was 60,000. It’s like “who cares?” I honestly think that we should be at the point in the United States of America that when kids go to public schools they get a healthy meal. That’s part of what their day includes. We don’t find out the how rich or poor they are in order to ride a school bus. We don’t say we only give textbooks to the poorest kids and all the rest of you. We need you to come up with the money to buy it. Public school is public school. And I think that a healthy meal, a healthy lunch and now just because we know how much better children learn when they do eat breakfast. And I think having them start the day with a healthy breakfast and let’s just pay for that. But then the money that we’re spending on computers and on paper work let’s spend that money on food and just provide these meals for kids.
Mathea Ford: [00:18:43] So, if somebody’s a dietitian in school nutrition working maybe they’re new and they knew that atleast 40 percent of their community was even eligible for these free and reduced lunches. This might be a program that they should start giving in to. Is that what they can do?
Deborah Taylor: [00:19:03] Yes. And all of that data is available online. I can look and see what your kids, I know what school district your kids go to let’s say. And I can go online and look at the not just the whole district and what these numbers are for the district that I can look at each individual school building and see what each school building. Yes. And this is available to everybody nationwide. And it’s on USDA’s website. I believe for the state of Oklahoma, it is also on the State Department of Education – Child Nutrition Program website. We talk about the hunger and hungry kids a lot. And that like I already said that’s just because your parents have enough money does it mean that there are times that child doesn’t have food for whatever reason – moms on a diet, parents are both busy working. Whatever your financial status is if you’re a child and you’re hungry that day you’re not going to learn at the rate that you would learn if you had ifood in your stomach. And we as dietitians, we also look to the big future like how healthy are they going to be when they’re 55 and 60? But I can tell you in school. So, probably they don’t care about that. They care about how the kids are doing today in school and the fact is when kids eat more healthy food and they eat food period they do better in school, they learn better. Specifically, surprisingly in Math by providing school meals at no charge then that means that none of the students have to be embarrassed about eating school meals. And it means that all the kids no matter what their statuses at home they get to have a meal without worrying about it. They will get breakfast they will get lunch every single school day.
Mathea Ford: [00:21:06] I know something else that you guys did that was very kid focused and here in Oklahoma which we both live in Oklahoma we had a teacher strike for a couple of weeks.
Deborah Taylor: [00:21:15] Yes. Yes.
Mathea Ford: [00:21:18] My school district set up some sites where kids could go to get meals but what you guys did was amazing. So, I’d like you to talk about that.
Deborah Taylor: [00:21:29] Well. That was the teacher walk out and we acronymed it to TWO. And I was so proud of Oklahoma City school, the Transportation Department which is the best thing. Their administrators and then Child Nutrition Program worked together so well and we took food out. All of our employees were still on contract so they came in to work and they kept on making food and we took it out. Nobody came to the school building to eat. We drove it out in school buses, in the vans to all these different parks, all these different and several places that provide child care. They weren’t expecting to have kids all day long. So, we took meals to those places. Community like YMCA. I am going Brain-Dead with that many of community thing and including some churches that had children you know that kept kids.
Mathea Ford: [00:22:36] They opened up. Yeah!
Deborah Taylor: [00:22:39] And so we were able to provide lunch for them. All anybody had to do was call and say “hey! We’re over here at Highland Park area and we’re doing we’re feeding 25 kids. I mean we have 25 kids that we’re watching every day. Can you bring us 25 lunches?” And it was like “yes! We’re on it!” And we did that with them for the whole two weeks. It was really really amazing.
Mathea Ford: [00:23:09] Yeah! I mean like what if what parents had to go to work and the kids at home and yes, they can cook for themselves but you came right to their bus stops. And yeah. I’m sure it took quite a bit of just working together in community. But yeah that was I was just really impressed with that because it is really child focused.
Deborah Taylor: [00:23:34] Yes.
Mathea Ford: [00:23:35] All right! So, awesome stuff that’s been fun. There’s always an opportunity to do more stuff. But can you tell me some of the things that are special about school nutrition food that makes it healthier? Because these are some of the things that I’ve been very surprised to try.
Deborah Taylor: [00:23:54] Okay.
Mathea Ford: [00:23:54] There like cereal or milk or whatever you’d like to talk about?
Deborah Taylor: [00:23:58] Okay, so first of all, you know we had the pyramid for a long time but then it got switched to my plate which is much more user friendly for just normal folks. If you take the My Plate that USDA put out and you change it to a tray and we call it My Tray in school. Then each one the the different sections of My Plate is covered on in a school meal. So, we have the protein section, we have the grains section, all of the grains there is okay. School meals by requirement before Michelle Obama came in to place so it’s not fair to blame her for bad food. That’s not fair. Okay? Because you know that. She did emphasize school meals and some of the regulations that everyone had to begin doing were instituted faster than maybe they should have because people have to get used to changing especially in the way that they eat. So, at Shawnee like I already said at Shawnee we’re already doing most of these things already. So, our kids had no problem transitioning. My lunch ladies they cook and prepare and serve these meals. They had no problem in switching because we were already doing most of this stuff. So, in the grains now, everything has to be whole grain rich which means that at least half the grain in that product is whole grain. So, we can’t buy white Pasta, we have to buy whole pasta that’s at least half wholegrain. So, every single bread product bread type product is going to be wholegrain rich on a school meal. It may look like that we have whole wheat now right? That’s something at Shawnee, I had the brown bread since 1994 and then transitioned from Brown wheat bread to 100 percent whole wheat way back in the 90s. And and so we chose not to go use quite whole wheat because I thought it was important to let people know by looking that they were getting whole wheat and we had kids ate it without any problem. And then I found out later that they were telling their parents that’s what they wanted to buy at the store and that was like validated everything I done with school meals. Because that’s my point is that people make better choices at home and throughout their lifetime. With choices that I made for them at school. So, then we have fruit and vegetables for all these years until the changes in 2010. Then we had fruit and vegetable as a combination. Well, if you remember the Dietary Guidelines for Americans they change every five years they’re updated and school meals have to follow what the dietary guidelines are. Well, they said “they’re your vegetables” because in looking at doing studies the maturity of the biggest vegetable piece that people not just children but people in America eat is can you guess?
Mathea Ford: [00:27:21] Lettuce? Or does that even count?
Deborah Taylor: [00:27:24] Yes that does count that. Okay. It is French fries. Not potatoes but french fries specifically.
Mathea Ford: [00:27:33] I didn’t think about French Fries as vegetable so that’s why…. .
Deborah Taylor: [00:27:36] Yes. Yes. Because as dietitians we think of that as how fast that how much and how fast it makes blood sugar and the Glycemic Index that type of thing and so we automatically put potatoes in the starch. Right?
Mathea Ford: [00:27:52] Right!
Deborah Taylor: [00:27:53] In school meals, potatoes have always been a vegetable. And of course they grow like a vegetable. If you check out all their other vitamins and minerals that are in potatoes they’re definitely a vegetable. Yes, they are a vegetable.
Mathea Ford: [00:28:06] So, I agree they vegetable. Never even crossed my mind. Okay.
Deborah Taylor: [00:28:11] Yes. Yes. So French fries and of course I mean I guess you could argue that french fries do have a little some of their earlier vitamins and minerals so let’s do them. But usually when things are fried at 450 degrees it like kills most of that pretty quickly. And they’re skinny. You know so it’s it’s not like a baked potato where you’ve got this whole potatoes stuff – all flat in everything else inside of there you know. It is right. So, that’s where the They’re Your Vegetables came in. And so what they did in school meals was divide vegetables into five different categories that were required in schools to provide every week. And they audited on this on this very carefully. One is the starchy vegetables, one is the dark green vegetables and with each of these they’re on they have the things on the list when its legumes and we know that Americans need to eat way more legumes that we eat that’s the dried peas and beans. One is red orange vegetable and one is then Other – the other category. Anything that didn’t fall into the first four falls in the other. So, that’s cucumbers, then cauliflower and surprisingly cabbage and green beans because dark green there are certain things that are dark green that don’t give us the volume and advantage that they’re wanting you to get in the dark green leafy. It doesn’t but it says dark green. So, broccoli is a dark green but green beans aren’t. Okay? So, the main thing is that you can see this gets pretty complicated. So, we have whole pages of list of vegetables and we are required we can’t leave out the other. You have to provide a half a cup of other vegetable every week and you have to provide a half a cup of each of the different vegetable groups and there they have all kinds of rules and regulations that you know to try to make it so that each child has options of making sure. Like if you have a separate sandwich line. That Sandwich line has to have all five different categories every week. The kid eats off the sandwich line every day, it’s real easy to just put in baby carrots and lettuce and onions for their sandwiches but then they’re not going to get any legumes and they’re not going to get any starchy vegetable. Right? So…
Mathea Ford: [00:30:58] You got to be creative.
Deborah Taylor: [00:31:00] Yes, you have to be creative and you and is it that fun you know.?
Mathea Ford: [00:31:05] Well, I can’t think about…..
Deborah Taylor: [00:31:08] Really? Who wants a boring job. Right?
Mathea Ford: [00:31:11] Yeah! Menu planning to make your cycle menu though. So, I remember doing it in school and thinking I would hate it forever and then I went into food service. I’m like “Oh yeah! I’m going to do cycle menus for the rest of my life.”.
Deborah Taylor: [00:31:26] And thats true.
Mathea Ford: [00:31:28] So, can you talk about some specific food that maybe a little different than like what you would find on the shelf for anything that you use in school food service?
Deborah Taylor: [00:31:36] Okay so then, now then with each school meal. We have to prove the nutrients that are on each tray that we have planned. And so we have what is called CN label – Child Nutrition Label. And so when we buy when you see pizza. Kids love pizza, grown ups love pizza. When you say pizza we in schools, I can’t just make out any old pizza and put it out there just because kids love it. On my pizza, first of all the grain on it, the crust has to be whole grain rich. And then each piece has to provide two ounces of protein to the kids and then I can do some extra things like if I order pizza that has more sauce on it then I might be able to say that it’s also gotten a cup of vegetable. If it’s a Pizza Supreme has you know that has the some peppers and onions and a little bit extra sauce. One of things I would like kids to leave school doing is not giving in ranch dressing which is that subtle. Right? That dipping in to Marinara sauce and eating more because that’s tomatoes and that’s good for it. So, let’s learn. Yeah let’s step our pizza that let’s dip it in Marinara and then think about the good things that are in that Marinara sauce. The same with salsa, onions that’s the big huge change in the last 25 years I’ve done this. When you said Tex is much more Mexican food all of us eat and South of the Border. Yes. So, whatever name we want to give it.
Mathea Ford: [00:33:29] Tex-Mex. Yeah.
Deborah Taylor: [00:33:31] Yes and cause every one of them has just a little bit different flavor profile but we love it. All you know Americans just eat that. So, let’s see more salsa. Let’s eat more Pico de Gallo whether it’s fresh salsa, canned salsa. All of that is a tomato based product. And so the more of that kind of thing that we give our kids and let our kids to enjoy at school then the more they’re going to want to add that as a side to any of their other food. We went through a period where my husband bought giant things as just the two of them we buy these giant things of salsa and he would… it didn’t matter what I ate. He just you know would add a half a cup to a cup of salsa on top of it and it was like “really? Indian food?” I did not try. “But Debra I liked it.” And so what we want kids by the time they leave us to accept if they don’t like trying new things at least they accept that there are new things. So, when a parent looks at our menus you have to remember we’re like a big restaurant chain. We have toas long as we’re charging kids for meals which if you’re not doing CEP then you’re expecting parents to pay for that for their meals. Right? As long as we’re charging for meals and we have to make it where kids choose as over their other options. And so you have to prepare yet to plan menus and food that kids want to eat. And so when you just you know open up your school district’s website and use the app. Look they’re there when hamburgers again. They’re doing pizza again. Well, I mean…
Mathea Ford: [00:35:25] Check everything there.
Deborah Taylor: [00:35:26] Yes. Yes. Now that’s another yes. Kids love chicken now. And that is overtaken pizza as the number one choice now is various forms of chicken.
Mathea Ford: [00:35:38] Because of breading on Chicken Fingers is whole grain?
Deborah Taylor: [00:35:42] Breading on Chicken Fingers is whole grain rich. Absolutely! Would you believe it? Who would ever thought that you know? So. And all of the companies Tyson, Gold, Pilgrim’s Pride.
Mathea Ford: [00:35:58] Kaiser.
Deborah Taylor: [00:35:58] They cant hear it hear it is Pilgrim’s Pride. And all of them make chicken products that we buy those are all CN labeled because there again I have to prove that when a child takes five chicken nuggets that they’re getting two ounces of protein and since we now it also counters one grain because of the breading. So…
Mathea Ford: [00:36:29] And they’re baked and not fried?
Deborah Taylor: [00:36:29] And they’re baked not friend and they taste amazing. And so to one of these things says these big companies that make food for schools Conagra and Smucker’s . I probably shouldn’t have even started mentioning names because there are many many really really good companies that make them make food for us. Pierre – AdvancePierre which was in Enid, Oklahoma they made amazing beef products. Their hamburgers steak grilled hamburgers. I bought a rockin burger that have a teeny bit of onion in the mix and they taste amazing. They taste better than when you go to cook out for people or cooking it on the grill and putting it out there. The school hamburgers taste better than that. I mean it is amazing.
Mathea Ford: [00:37:29] I know when I was in the hospital, a lot of times I would ask my rep. Can you get me something off the school nutrition program stuff so that I can have lower sodium, I can have a whole and have a product that tastes good. I remember getting some cheese that way, I ended up getting but they just don’t naturally show that to health care which is very interesting and a totally different topic. But you know health care you would think that you’re working with people who have some sort of illness. Not aware of any type of you know chronic illness but maybe 50 percent of the people in the hospital have diabetes, heart disease something.
Deborah Taylor: [00:38:11] Yes, they are there for a reason.
Mathea Ford: [00:38:13] Yeah. A lower sodium foods. So, anyway… So, often I do the cereals they’re whole grain. Even like frosted flakes and fruit loops?
Deborah Taylor: [00:38:25] All of and they are lower in sugar. Now then that they had regulations for how what was the maximum amount of sugar that could be in a cereal that we served at school and now they’ve lowered it to this school year right now is the first year that that went into effect. The new regs. So, honestly since I retired at the end you know June 30th then I don’t, I haven’t seen the new ones because I haven’t been to a school. And I mean when you’re eating a good cereal you don’t know if it’s got six grams about of sugar. It’s got 12 grams of that is sugar. One thing I thought my boys when they were growing up is “Okay, look pull a box of cereal off” and back there you know we have the total carbohydrates and then sugars right?
Deborah Taylor: [00:39:26] And they had to get, they could pick any of them but they had to get it where the maximum was half sugar. Well, tons of our tins now are way lower than that. Dramatically lower. So and that tins that’s still one of the things we ask kids “what do you want? What would you like us to add to our menu that we don’t have right now?” Especially at high schools they say they want more variety of cereals and it’s like ” We have eight out there every day. How many varieties do you want?” So, it is. We always have to remember that this is kind of like a family you know at home. We’re feeding kids. What we buy and we tend to kind of make the same things over and over again in schools. Kids are eating in there for 13 years and you know if you and I met for lunch once a month then after eating at our favorite place for four months, we go “Ohh! We go to some place different.” Even though we went there once a month and these kids are going five days a week for 13 years. Right?
Mathea Ford: [00:40:39] But the truth is, kids tend to like certain foods and stick with those.
Deborah Taylor: [00:40:45] Yes.
Mathea Ford: [00:40:46] So, yeah I know because I know my son and daughter like you know we have these choices today, I always like the chicken. Whatever so. But I have two different. My family eat almost anything at school. And then my daughter have the time she makes her lunch because she’ just sure she’s not going to like the school ones. And I will not give her money to go buy from like schools’ students or whatever. Some like something out of the cafeteria or make your lunch.
Deborah Taylor: [00:41:15] They could. I would keep all the money that they want when they eat. They get a school meal, pay for that and then they could buy the things that I sold a la carte and if they wanted to eat out of the vending machines or go out we had open campus at Shawnee for my boys graduated and they wanted to leave with their friends and even off campus. Then, I didn’t want to set up a situation where they were lying to me. And so that’s fine but I’m not going to pay for that. You can work and have your own money and if you want to do that and that works out fine for my boys. Getting the freedom that other high school kids were getting and you know we never ever want to be. It doesn’t help raise people who eat more help make more healthy choices in the end which is what we’re all wanting to do food wise with our kids. We want them to be grown ups that keep on making healthy choices. If we force them to do anything with food that it backfires on us.
Mathea Ford: [00:42:21] If someone’s thinking about this is a career if they’re student or something or may be you know they are interested. What is your best tip for someone talk about this career as a career regarding what it involves or what’s your best thought about that?
Deborah Taylor: [00:42:36] Well first of all you do not have to be a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in order to do the job because the main thing is you have to follow the rules. So as dietitians, we understand the rules and we can tweak them and all that kind of thing. But it doesn’t matter if you understand it or not, you follow the rules and the rules are very well laid out in training from the State Department about Child Nutrition Program that’s provided for you all the way through. There’s an Institute of Family Nutrition that is based out of Mississippi. Anybody can Google those and there are all kinds of free online courses. One of the like a twelve hour course is say you want to be a director of a school nutrition program and then a major one also. Those would be things that you could go on and if you’re a student or if you’re in a career field right now or you’re taking a break from working because of children or whatever or if you’re getting tired of what you do or you know you have a move coming up and are going to have to switch that was what happened to me a lot. You know it’s the beginning of things. And so you can get a lot of individual training that was not available when I was when I started. As Registered Dietitians, we get a certain amount of food service management. That’s part of our training and it has to be there you don’t get to be an RD.
Mathea Ford: [00:44:16] Right.
Deborah Taylor: [00:44:16] Make no mistake about it this is a big food service management job. And if you won’t do that well and if you don’t care, I would say try it wouldn’t you? Try it because you may like it. It was certainly not my first choice of what I wanted to do for the rest of my life or whatever but it has it’s turned out to be something that has been extremely rewarding and I feel like I can look at my life and go “Wow! I made a difference in a lot of people’s lives.” And so it’s a food service management job that’s the first thing. And then every school district in the United States of America, they are using this Federal Child Nutrition Program. And I don’t mean a 100 percent that it’s like 99.2% or something of all the public schools choose to use the Federal Child Nutrition Program. So, every town has schools so these kind jobs are available in each town or each… Many states divides school districts up by the county which makes a lot of sense when it comes to very different than intense programs administrative kind of thing like the Child Nutrition Program. Then within one year if you choose a district that the size of Shawnee. Let’s say 10,000 or smaller students then it’s very likely you’ll be the only one there with the degree and then go train other people to do the things that they need to do. If you’re a little bit larger than that then they often act like with more they nearly always have a registered dietitian that’s planning their menus and registering the nutrition analysis. And that is that then has other responsibilities in the district also. That’s a great way to get started.
Deborah Taylor: [00:46:19] High schools have a very commonly a thousand to 4,000 students in them. Being the actual manager in that kitchen and running that kitchen for a year or two would be excellent experience. You’re not going to get paid as much. That would mean basically being a lunch lady that because there are no requirements at this stage that people managing the actual kitchens have anything more than a high school degree but you would learn so much and you would be a fantastic director if you also had that practical experience for a period of time. So, like in Oklahoma City schools we have Operations Coordinators that do have degrees and each of them has 12 to 20 schools that they are responsible for. So, that would be another place or you wouldn’t have to know all of them or you could get get to learn how school meals function and learn you know have the practical experience of managing people and training people and checking quality and checking safety and understanding the meal patterns that kind of thing. You know so that’s another area that you can get involved in. And one of the huge programs that’s out there that people don’t know about unless they’re in more of a poverty type situation a high poverty school, there is a Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program that you apply for and these are like grants for each site. And with that Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is one of the only grants out there that actually provides money for real food.
Deborah Taylor: [00:48:21] We talked a lot about food as dietitians. We teach people about food but having real food there that people we expect people to go home and transfer that wonderful teaching that we do in several foods. But if you can deal with real food in the first place that’s one of the nice things we have in schools.
Mathea Ford: [00:48:48] I love it but those resources because if you’re just seem just thinking about it you can look into those resources or like you can spend a little time.
Deborah Taylor: [00:48:53] Yes.
Mathea Ford: [00:48:54] Question I like to ask my visitor in my interviews. What’s your favorite food?
Deborah Taylor: [00:49:04] Ah and I did expect that because I listened to some of your other things it’s like “Wow! What’s my favorite food.?” And my first instinct to say is Salted Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake Dark Chocolate Cheesecake. That obviously we can’t eat that all the time and so I do love food period. So I think if you were to ask me what was my favorite fruit? Right now, I think I would say mango.
Mathea Ford: [00:49:34] Ohh! I Love mango.
Deborah Taylor: [00:49:35] I know and I didn’t get to grow up with it.
Mathea Ford: [00:49:40] Awesome Deborah! Thank You so much for being on the podcast today. It was a pleasure to have you on a show. I know my listeners has just been immersed in child nutrition and school nutrition. And so, thank you for that. If the listeners want to connect with you, what’s the best way to do that?
Deborah Taylor: [00:49:55] Right now because I am just newly retired, I plan on setting up a blog at some point that my Facebook is Deborah. Spelled the long way D-E-B-O-R-A-H Stout S-T-O-U-T Taylor T-A-Y-L-O-R. And I do the nutrition stuff with my with my kids stuff that if you don’t want see kid pictures you know just be aware that’s my Facebook for everything.
Mathea Ford: [00:50:27] Okay. Well guys, this is again another great episode of the Nutrition Expert Podcast. The podcast that is all about learning more and do more with nutrition in your life.
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