Congratulations to Colchester Middle School head cook Ruth Quintin for her recent honor!
Since 1988—way back when President Reagan was in office!—Ruth has been dedicating her energy to students and to school nutrition. As a result, the School Nutrition Association of Vermont (SNA-VT) recently presented her with its “Serving Up Excellence” award. According to SNA-VT’s website, the honor was given “to recognize the valuable contributions of school food service staff who work in daily operations preparing and serving appetizing meals to children. These employees make the difference between an outstanding program and an average one through customer service, interest in young people, creativity, participation in professional growth and training, and a willingness to ‘greet the challenge’ on a daily basis.”
Ruth received the honor at the recent 2013 SNA-VT Annual Conference and Membership Meeting at Shelburne Farms.
Among other missions, the SNA-VT works to promote and support school nutrition. It put out the call for nominations, and Ruth received a wealth of support from around the district. “Ruthie is definitely an example of the fact that we can keep improving over time,” wrote Director of Nutrition and Food Services Steve Davis in his nomination letter to SNA-VT. “For the past twenty-five years, Ruthie has been a shining star at Colchester Middle School. She excels in her position in our district’s food service program, and she cares about our students’ nutritional needs.”
“There is no job that Ruthie will not do or cannot do,” wrote colleague Glyn Gelinas in her letter of support. “Ruthie loves her job, and it shows in everything that she does, no matter how big or small the task at hand.”
CMS administrators Principal Dawn Gruss, Assistant Principal Peg Gillard, and Assistant Principal Dovid Yagoda wrote in their letter of support that they “cannot imagine an individual whose career has been more exemplary in her ability, and desire, to adapt and grow with the times—all in an effort to provide a nourishing meal to our children … prepared with kindness, caring, and compassion.”
And of course the CMS Cougars love Ruth, too; last year, the Cougars surprised her with a seventy-fifth birthday celebration, complete with the “Happy Birthday” serenade, a grand cheer, and cake for everyone (please click here to read that story and to watch a video of it).
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.)
“Recognition is something Ruthie has never asked for, but I feel it is well deserved,” wrote Steve Davis.
Congratulations to Ruth, and very well done!
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