Projects | Training | Marketing
A great way to elevate your organization is by customizing projects to meet your program’s technical assistance and training needs. These projects can then be passed on to other organizations that need the same information. And no project is too big or too small to make a positive difference. These projects simultaneously empower child nutrition professionals to embrace nutrition, influence greatness, and craft culinary cultures — ultimately inspiring children to make healthy choices.
As a chef and registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), I’ve had the opportunity to develop resources that enable food service staff to work more confidently and efficiently — while having fun! I have extensive experience writing grants and executing grant-funded projects that enhance School Breakfast Programs (SBPs), National School Lunch Program (NSLPs), and Child and Adult Care Food Programs (CACFPs) across the country. Through these experiences, I have seen the valuable impact of results-driven projects — namely that these support healthy eating and physical activity in child nutrition programs.
Areas of Expertise
Keynote | General | Breakout
One of my passions is connecting with individuals and audiences of all sizes during trainings and other educational events. I have provided a variety of training sessions to schools, districts, and large conference audiences including School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference (SNA ANC), American Commodity Distribution Association (ACDA), and many state SNA conferences.
Grant Writing and Projects
When I began working on the Chef Designed School Lunch Cookbook in 2008, little did I know a dynamic industrywide transition was imminent. This was the first opportunity I had to work on a Team Nutrition (TN) grant-funded project, and I began just before the new regulations from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act were officially implemented. This challenging project changed my life and launched my career in an exciting new direction: child nutrition.
For the last ten years, I have worked with a variety of teams writing detailed grant proposals (including Team Nutrition and Administrative Review and Training [ART]Grants) and developing Requests for Quotes (RFQs). Collectively, these proposals have resulted in over a million dollars in funding. These funds have provided child nutrition professionals across the country with an abundance of training resources that have elevated their confidence, skills, and meal pattern (SBP, NSLP, CACFP) compliance capabilities.
USDA Standardized Child Nutrition Cookbooks
I am humbled to have authored and/or coauthored five child nutrition cookbooks. These include: Chef Designed School Lunch, CACFP Multi-Culture Cookbook, Chef Designed School Breakfast, Idaho Grown Legumes – Chef Recipes for Child Nutrition Programs, and the Idaho CACFP Menu Toolkit. All five cookbooks contain kid-tested and approved recipes that meet the USDA standardized meal pattern requirements for school and CACFP programs, while providing budget-conscious menu solutions. Let’s craft your customized cookbook!
Recipe & Menu Development
My interest in recipe and menu development has grown over the years after conducting numerous state menu reviews and providing technical assistance for SBPs, NSLPs, CACFPs across Idaho. In addition, I have hands-on experience working in childcare centers and school kitchens. This knowledge is crucial to the success of child nutrition programs — particularly when developing recipes and menus that must meet the meal pattern requirements and appeal to children. I take great pleasure in working collaboratively to help reduce the stress this process may cause. Let’s build your recipes and menus!
Lights, Camera, Action! Short videos are a convenient and economical way to provide training material for child nutrition professionals, especially for those who need professional standard training hours. I have created training videos for the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) and for various grant-related projects and find that customized content is an excellent resource for conveying your organization’s specific needs to both new and experienced staff. Having on-demand training sessions are appropriate for a variety of topics, including but not limited to: culinary techniques, breakfast-in-the-classroom, offer versus serve (SBP & NSLP, CACFP), food safety, serving toddlers, family-style meals, and more.
Taste testing with students is the best way to find out if your recipes and menus get the thumbs up! I have extensive experience taste testing recipes and food items with students, and I’ve found this to be a terrific way to provide children with opportunities to discover new foods (and to market your menus). Additionally, children are a lot of fun during the process, because they are often candid — sometimes even hilarious — when sharing their opinions about how to improve a recipe. Taste tests can be conducted in multiple ways and should be appropriate for each meal pattern grade ranges.
Let’s market your menus by getting families involved! One way to do this is by holding recipe contests. Providing parents and students with an opportunity to feature their home recipe in your menus not only markets your menus, it gets their buy-in. This is also a fun way to discover new recipes that appeal to both students and parents. An added benefit: the process of standardizing a student's home recipe so it meets USDA guidelines helps families learn how healthy our meals really are. This is also a great time to get the media involved in promoting the culinary innovation happening in your kitchen!
Contact Chef Brenda, RDN
If your organization is looking for opportunities to empower child nutrition professionals to embrace nutrition, influence greatness, and craft culinary cultures, contact me to discuss how we can work together.