All members of the Gretna Public Schools Food and Nutrition Services management team are now certified through the School Nutrition Association.
When Sharon Schaefer took over as FANS director in 2018, 100% certification was a goal of hers.
“I asked managers to achieve Level 1 by May 2021,” she said. “Due to COVID-19 changing our service style, I asked them to pursue Level 1 by May 2020 and it actually happened.
“Not only that, but we have many that achieved higher levels.”
Cheryl Withers was among staff who recently reached Level 4, participating in online education courses and webinars to earn her certification, also attending the Nebraska School Nutrition Association conference annually to obtain CEUs (continuing education units) that go toward certification levels.
“I completed a wide range of courses such as, food safety, food allergies in school nutrition programs, culinary skills and even human resources,” Withers said. “I found the human resources courses to be interesting and more importantly, the most useful in operating my own kitchen.
“The heart of every kitchen is the staff and I have learned to be a better communicator towards them and hopefully as a result, we have become a more cohesive group.”
Withers is among four GPS staffers at Level 4, the highest level of certification through the School Nutrition Association. The district also has five at Level 1, one at Level 2, and two at Level 3.
“It is extremely important for me to continue my education every year to re-certify my Level 4 certification because I obtain new skills that I use in every aspect of my duties as a manager,” Withers said. “I take great pride in working for Gretna Public Schools and to put it very simply, I love my job.”
Next year, management staff will pursue ServSafe certification.