• By Haley R Borin
  • Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Job Spotlight: Nelson Reames, School Nutrition Specialist


Did you know that June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month? For many, summer is a great time to enjoy fresh and healthy summertime fruits and veggies! The Muscogee County School District works diligently every single day, even during the summer months, to ensure that our students have adequate nutrition to maintain a healthy body and mind.

Nelson Reames, School Nutrition Specialist, is one of the many faces behind our School Nutrition Department. As a registered dietitian nutritionist, Reames works within the school system to carefully plan school meals and to ensure that they meet federal nutrition guidelines. “While we have to ensure that our meals meet dietary guidelines, we also strive to make the meals appealing for our students,” says Reames. “Even from the crusts on our pizzas to our bread, everything is wholegrain and reformulated to meet healthy criteria.” According to the guidelines, schools are required to offer whole grains, protein, fruits, vegetables and dairy with every meal.

Reames has always had a passion for health and nutrition, expressing her desire to become a dietitian as early as high school. “I’ve known that I wanted to be a registered dietitian for a pretty long time, but I didn’t know all of the options and specialties that were available to me in the field,” says Reames. “I got my degree in foods and nutrition from Meredith College in Raleigh, NC.” After graduating, she then completed a dietetic internship at Georgia Southern University where she was required to perform 1,200 hours of service in clinical work, food service and community nutrition. Upon the completion of her internship in 2016, Reames became a registered dietitian and began working for The Muscogee County School District.

Since starting her position at MCSD, Reames has aided the district’s school nutrition program by advocating for locally-grown produce to be served during mealtimes and is a proponent of Georgia Grown. “We encourage our distributors to buy more locally-grown foods,” says Reames. “Georgia Grown is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to encourage the consumption of Georgia-grown produce and to motivate the public to research where their produce is coming from.” Reames goes on to say that “we’re putting our federal and state funding back into our communities by buying the local food to go into our Georgia students. It’s a beautiful thing!”

Reames’ passion and enthusiasm is evidenced by the tremendous work she performs every single day in the district. She says that she is grateful for a position that allows work-life balance, but that ultimately, her favorite part about her job is feeding the kids! “School nutrition is the only program where federal dollars go into ensuring that people are fed the way they should be, according to dietary guidelines,” says Reames. “We are living by example and are practicing what we’re preaching in our schools.”

MCSD also recognizes that without ensuring proper nutrition, students simply cannot succeed. “I want to empower our students and to give them the nutrients that I was given and took for granted during my time in school,” Reames says. ”We are giving them a basic need to level the playing field so that they can take on new opportunities. If a child is hungry or worrying about where their next meal is coming from, they physically cannot perform in school. Once we feed them, they can worry about learning fractions because they’ve had a meal.”

Many times, school meals may be the only food source for children in Muscogee County, so MCSD works diligently to provide meals for our students at every opportunity, even during the summer months. The Seamless Summer Feeding Program is a federally-funded, state-administered program that operates during the months of June and July to feed MCSD students breakfast and lunch at no cost! All students are welcome to participate as long as they are 18 and younger. “If you’ve never had to experience true hunger, then you cannot fathom it,” says Reames. “What better reason to open our doors during the summer?” In addition to providing meals to hungry students, the Seamless Summer Feeding Program also provides jobs and income to school employees who wish to work during the summer months.

In April, the MCSD School Nutrition Program was formally recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the summer feeding program and was awarded a Silver Turnip the Beet Award. This award recognizes outstanding summer meal program sponsors across the nation who offer high quality and nutritious meals during the summer months. Reames played an instrumental role in MCSD receiving this award.

During the school year, MCSD also participates in an afterschool snack program to fill in the afternoon hunger gap for students who may be involved in either extracurricular activities or afterschool care. Additionally, many of MCSD’s elementary schools participate in The Fresh Fruits and Vegetable program, a grant that funds the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables to which students might not be exposed otherwise. “It enables us to be able to buy both exotic and locally-grown food. It’s really about exposure, and every student is able to try some,” says Reames. “It also gives teachers great opportunities to teach nutrition education in the classroom!” The MCSD School Nutrition Department is perpetually and proactively seeking ways to provide students with healthy, nutritious and filling meals.

If you would like more information on what nutrition benefits and programs are available for your student, check out the following resources:

https://www.muscogee.k12.ga.us/News/Article/1118/Muscogee_County_Seamless_Summer_Feeding_Program_Provides_Free

https://www.muscogee.k12.ga.us/p/Divisions/OperationsAndFacilities/SchoolNutrition/Information

https://www.georgiagrown.com/

https://healthymeals.fns.usda.gov/features-month/june/national-fresh-fruit-and-vegetable-month

Comments:

Donna Clarke about 7 months ago
    Congrats and awesome job Miss. Nelson. Thanks for all you do for SNP. I'm sure that the children and parents of MCSD appreciate the service you and the SNP team provide. I look forward to the upcoming school year and hope to continue to work with our awesome team to continue making a healthy difference in the lives of our students, parents, and everyone involved. Have an awesome day!

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