Christina Kepa

Norfolk Publich Schools' Christina Kepa brings unmatched creativity and enthusiasm to her job.

Why Selected?

Helen Phillips, senior director of school nutrition, says: Christina brings unmatched creativity and enthusiasm to the job. She enjoys a challenge and always wants to be the best. She has shown great leadership skills and has developed several new initiatives, including updating the department’s Web site and adding an option for people to subscribe to receive e-mails about program updates and information; creating a marketing video that promotes schools meals; conducting taste tests with students; launching a social media campaign; and designing promotions throughout the school year to encourage students to try new items like edamame and spaghetti squash.

Details

Nutrition Education and Training Coordinator, Norfolk Public Schools, Norfolk, VA
Age: 26
Education: B.S. in dietetics from Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; master’s in dietetics from James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.
Years at organization: 2

Get to know

Q. What has been your proudest accomplishment?

I graduated in 2007, which was the semester of April 16th (when 32 people were killed by a gunman on Virginia Tech’s campus). My menu planning class was cut short, and we had a menu-planning project that we never got to do. My greatest accomplishment was planning my first menu and seeing the changes that I’ve made.

Q. What would you say you excel at over more seasoned colleagues?

Understanding and staying abreast of the latest trends in everything. I can relate to the kids sometimes easier. I’m definitely someone who pushes the envelope; that’s something I think you lose a little bit of as you get older.

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

My band director in college told me never to underestimate the power of networking. In college I think you don’t really understand what networking is, but as I’ve progressed in my career I’ve learned that building bridges is important.

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

Making sure people understand you, relating to people and learning how to work with people. I’m a pretty independent person and a free thinker, but I can’t just hit the road running and not look around and see the people around me.

Q. What's been your most rewarding moment?

My most rewarding moment has come from the USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable grant. I love watching students who don’t know what certain fruits and vegetables are embrace it and love it.

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

To have all menus be 100% student approved through taste testing.

Under 30

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
coffee shop trailor graphic

A familiar face is coming to the roads of Rutgers University this fall: the Starbucks mermaid. The New Brunswick, N.J.-based school is testing a Starbucks truck throughout the upcoming semester, NJ.com reports . The company began testing trucks on college campuses in 2014, and now has mobile locations at Arizona State University, James Madison University in Virginia, East Carolina University in North Carolina and Sacramento State in California.

The trucks will serve the full lineup of Starbucks beverages that’s available at the outlet’s brick-and-mortar location at Rutgers,...

Industry News & Opinion

A study from Virginia Tech has found a connection between school meal participation and obesity in students. From data that predates the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act , the findings raise questions over whether nutrition standards go far enough.

The research evaluated data from 1998 to 2007, comparing first through eighth grade students who partook in free and reduced-price lunch and those who qualified but opted out. Wen You, associate professor in the Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics at Virginia Tech, says she expected to validate theories that increased breakfast...

Industry News & Opinion

Buffalo Public Schools is turning to local chefs and a little competition to help create new menu items, the Buffalo News reports .

In October, local chefs will compete against each other and a team of seven to 10 students led by chef Bobby Anderson, a former contestant on “Hell’s Kitchen,” to create lunch recipes that comply with USDA nutritional requirements and use seasonal produce sourced locally.

“This Chef Challenge is another way to engage our youth in a fun, friendly competition with local area chefs who can help create appealing recipes that will be incorporated...

Industry News & Opinion

After being sued by the Services Employees International Union over its decision to change vendors from Sodexo to Morrison, the foodservice arm at Mayo Clinic continues to face backlash from staff.

Foodservice employees at the Rochester, Minn., hospital last week handed over a petition 1,200 signatures deep asking that they remain with their current employer, Fox 9 reports .

While a Mayo Clinic spokesperson said that staff will be given similar positions and pay rates under Morrison, SEIU Healthcare Minnesota—the union representing much of the hospital’s foodservice staff—...

FSD Resources