We are thrilled to announce that Porters Point School’s head cook received a tremendous honor from the School Nutrition Association of Vermont (SNA-VT) at the Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, Vermont, on October 22.
The SNA-VT presented Ms. Ploof with the Greet the Challenge Award for Excellence. According to SNA-VT’s website, the honor was given for “exemplified commitment to child nutrition and positive attitudes regarding all the challenges faced in providing nutrition services to Vermont students, especially in times of elevated standards and fewer resources.”
Among other missions, the SNA-VT works to promote and support school nutrition. It put out the call for nominations, and Principal Jim Marshall wrote to the nomination committee in support of Ms. Ploof. “On a daily basis, she must take into careful consideration our students with allergies or restrictions due to religious beliefs,” he wrote. “Whenever possible, Bunny works at making the introduction of new foods ‘kid friendly’ while maintaining the nutritional value of the meal.” Mr. Marshall also wrote of Ms. Ploof’s tireless efforts to make herself available to the students, providing a nurturing and encouraging environment for them while meeting their nutritional needs and responding to unexpected shifts in meal schedules with a cheerful and upbeat disposition.
The requirements governing school nutritional programs are vastly different from those of generations past. Meals need to be planned around religious and ethical considerations as well as around allergies, and, as the result of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the new nutrition standards are written by the US Department of Agriculture, which decides what foods may be sold and what ingredients can be used on school lunch lines and in vending machines. In addition to all of that is the required incorporation of government commodities, such as cheeses, meats, and canned fruits and vegetables into the menus—and it needs to be appealing, all within the confines of limited financial resources. Colchester School District has already conformed to the US Department of Agriculture’s requirements and is working to implement other improvements, as well. (Please feel free to visit our primers about the district’s food service program and wellness program for more information.)
For Ms. Ploof’s part, she is thrilled to be such an integral part of the students’ days. Her office walls are graced with drawings and thank-you notes carefully inked by PPS students. (One such note, written by one grateful student who shall remain anonymous, scrawled, “Thank you for the mac and cheese. It is better then my momy [sic].”)
“Their innocence and energy is everything,” she said of the students. “It means so much to be here.”
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