April Bechel, R.D.

April Bechel's desire to tackle new projects and manage programs has made her a success at Hastings ISD.

Why Selected?

(Bechel was nominated by Adele Lillie, child nutrition programs director for the Robbinsdale Area School District, in Minneapolis. Bechel worked for Robbinsdale for three years before joining Hastings in July.) According to Lillie, April has made an impact on nutrition services by:

•Creating menus that meet the new school meal pattern
•Applying for and managing the entire USDA Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Grant program
•Training and dealing with personnel concerns professionally and proactively with those who are older than she is

Details

Director of Food and Nutrition Services, Hastings ISD, Hastings, MN
Age: 28
Education: B.S. in nutrition-dietetics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison

Get to know

Q. What has been your proudest accomplishment?

Receiving the outstanding director of the year award from my first company. That was in my second year, at the age of 24. I got it for stabilizing the workforce, consistently controlling expenses and drastically improving client satisfaction in the long-term care facility I was working in. 

Q. What's the best career advice you've been given?

“Don’t stress, this isn’t brain surgery. No one is going to die if everything is not done perfectly. The kids will still get fed somehow, someway.” Getting this advice really allowed the perfectionist in me to calm down and not stress out in situations. It is OK to go home even if everything isn’t perfect. I don’t need to burn myself out being stressed and working 10 hours a day.
 

Q. What's been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?

Not getting hired by a school district right away and accepting a job in a field I didn’t love. But I still gave 110% every day.
 

Q. What's been your most rewarding moment?

Receiving a letter from an employee before I left my last job, thanking me for giving her the opportunity to grow as a professional. I really have worked hard to train staff and give them the tools they need to be successful, as they ultimately are the ones out there executing the mission and vision of the department daily.
 

Q. What would you like to accomplish in your career in the next two years?

I hope to increase participation, work to educate and ensure all kids are properly fueled for their day at school with a good breakfast and lunch, every day (not just test days), and continue to be as committed and as passionate about school nutrition as I am now.

Q. What's been your funniest on-the-job disaster?

This is a tie. First, I unknowingly called 911 and a police officer not only showed up at my office building, but he also had to come all the way back to my cubical to make sure I was OK.

Second, I was only in my second month in a school district when I menued a housemade, local farm-to-school recipe: Hamburger Wild Rice Casserole. It did not go over very well with the students. I walked into one of our elementary schools one day after it was served and had one of my employees, whose name I barely even knew at the time, just go off on me about how none of the kids liked it and only the teachers liked it, and how most of it went into the garbage and if we kept menuing it everyone was going to lose their jobs because of all the waste and lost participation. I definitely never menued it again!

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