D49 Nutrition Services Department Serves Up Top Rated Customer Service
The day starts at 6:30 a.m. in the Bennett Ranch Elementary School cafeteria. The staff, supervised by Nutrition Services Manager Jennifer McGuffin, turn on first the lights, and then start getting breakfast ready for their first rush of the day.
“I have always wanted to teach and be involved with children somehow,” McGuffin shared. “When they smile, I know I did something right.”
Their early customers line up at one of three doorways into the kitchen ahead of the first bell. When the students go off to class, McGuffin and her team fluidly follow their process for preparing the next meal. The same scenario plays out daily at campuses across School District 49.
“At the heart of everything the nutrition services department does is our customers- the students,” said Director Monica Deines-Henderson. “We understand they have a choice every day to either have their meals with us or not, and we want to make each meal a positive experience for them.”
According to the Colorado Department of Education, District 49 not only delivers on its promise of student care, but exceeds state and federal standards at all levels of execution.
The results of a CDE audit conducted in February 2019 show D49 nutrition services performs nearly perfectly, turning up only a single minor deficiency as described by auditors.
“Given the scope of the review process, it is very common for us to identify findings,” said McKenna Pullen, CDE nutrition programs senior consultant. “For a district the size of District 49 to only receive one finding is a good indication of how strong the leadership is.”
There is a complex balance to maintain. A successful school nutrition program must meet not only the needs of their student customers, but federal and state applied standards to maintain consistent funding. Regular audits like the one completed in February can determine the level of support provided by both levels of government.
Deines-Henderson explained the audit process required an extra three-and-a-half weeks of labor in preparation spanning two months in early 2019 on top of the face-to-face time spent with auditors conducting the on-site review.
“Between the off-site and on-site portions of the audit, it took 150 hours added to the normal workload,” Deines-Henderson said. She went on to explain the hard work paid off. The Department followed the District mission of learn, work and lead to make significant strides based on results returned from the last audit in 2016.
“A review of this nature solidifies D49 as being a top performing district in the area of school nutrition with CDE,” she said. “They recommend other districts who might have questions in the region to reach out to us for support or mentoring.”
In the meantime the daily focus is on the students.
“This job is very rewarding when I know that even if these kids go home to no food, I know they at least had one good meal,” McGuffin explained.
A typical afternoon for McGuffin, along with her team at BRES, is spent getting ready for the clock to hit 6:30 the following morning and the return of the customers who mean so much to the staff who serve them.
“They have the opportunity every day to make the students of D49’s day better with a smile, kind word, and nutritious food,” said Deines-Henderson.