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NCSS staffer studies nutrition
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Denise Woods of the Newton County School System was busy in the classroom and kitchen recently, learning to add more flavor to its nutrition programs and develop a better understanding of menu planning, ingredient quality, production, garnishing and service.

Woods attended the Georgia Department of Education School Nutrition Program Culinary Institute II, where Georgia Southern University professors and chefs helped school nutrition workers discover new recipes to give students healthier and tastier options for breakfasts, lunches and snacks.

The nutrition program, in cooperation with the College of Health and Human Sciences, College of Business Administration and the Continuing Education Center, hosted the 36-hour workshop, which was designed to develop management skills as part of the federal National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs.

The school nutrition program managers learned about using and modifying standardized recipes, creating a learning laboratory in the cafeteria, incorporating nutrition education and farm-to-school programs in the school environment, marketing new menu items and programs, resolving human resource issues and accommodating children with special needs.

School nutrition workers also learned about using herbs and spices, local and seasonal foods and vegetarian ingredients.

Becky Larson, registered dietitian in the Nutrition and Food Sciences Program, said the goal is to show those who are planning and producing school meals that there are healthy and tasty options for their school cafeterias.

"A key to improving school meals is to learn how to make things taste better," Larson said.

"One of the main things that we teach is to pay special attention to the ingredients during preparation. By using herbs, spices, citrus, seasonal produce and cooking methods, we can lower saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, sodium and added sugars."