CNM Teaches Cafeteria Workers How to Make More Nutritious Meals

August 8, 2013 -- School cafeteria workers from throughout New Mexico came to CNM in July to learn how to make more nutritious meals for K-12 students.
July 16, 2015

“All are devoted to the children in their schools and want to make sure they stay healthy. Some of them have worked at the same school cafeterias for 20, 23 and even 28 years,” said Charlene Selbee, CNM outreach specialist in the School of Business & Information Technology.

This was the second year CNM teamed up with the New Mexico Public Education Department’s Student Nutrition Bureau to offer one-and-a-half day classes focusing on culinary math, safety and sanitation, nutrition and cooking well-balanced meals.

The workshops were held on two different weekends, drawing 22 cafeteria workers on July 19-20 and 32 on July 26-27. The classes were conducted at CNM’s culinary school, which is soon to relocate to a new and larger facility in the newly renovated building at Basehart and University.

The first afternoon, the cafeteria workers took classes in culinary math, learning to convert to larger recipes; nutrition, where they were given an overview of nutrition concepts; and safety and sanitation where they were taught about cross contamination, personal sanitation, and what happens when they cook food improperly. In the evening, the cafeteria workers fixed their own dinners, using nutritious menus they were provided. On the following day, the Student Nutrition Bureau trained the cafeteria workers on new laws coming into effect that, for example, regulate how much whole grains can be served to children and calorie counts per meal. Lunches for children in grades K-5 must have 550 to 650 calories.

A USDA grant awarded to CNM, Healthy Meals Fit for Life, paid for the CNM instructors and food. A second USDA grant managed by the Student Nutrition Bureau – Team Nutrition Grant – provided funds for lodging and stipends for participants.

“These workshops were a perfect fit for this USDA grant,” said Theresa Romero, state health educator and Team Nutrition Program manager. ”The grant is to be used to initiate programs to provide training for food service professionals in the culinary arts and food preparation for students. It’s an initiative of USDA Food and Nutrition Services to help focus attention on the important role that nutritious school meals and a healthy school environment  play in helping students learn.”