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

Sponsored Content
savory yogurt parfait

From Dannon Foodservice.

What consumers eat and, most importantly, when they’re eating it has changed significantly in recent years, signaling opportunity for operators able to capitalize on this evolution.

For example, some 83% of consumers said they were daily snackers in 2016, according to Technomic’s Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report . That’s up from 76% just two years earlier. Snacking is growing across many channels from retail prepared foods to bakery and coffee cafes, fast-food locations and more.

Busy lifestyles, smaller households with greater meal...

Industry News & Opinion

Labor secretary nominee Andy Puzder has officially bowed out of consideration for the cabinet position, according to the Associated Press .

Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants—the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.—was tired of being under fire for hiring an undocumented immigrant as a nanny and being accused 26 years ago of physically abusing his wife, an unnamed source told CBS News . The agency reported that Puzder was unlikely to show for the start of his confirmation hearings tomorrow.

Puzder has also been attacked by organized labor for comments suggesting that...

Industry News & Opinion

Risley Dining Room at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., has just become 100 percent gluten-free, 14850.com reports.

For the past two years, the university has slowly phased out gluten in the dining hall’s menu by eliminating it in its stir fries, biscuits and brownies.

Instead of offering gluten-free versions of typical college fare, including pizza and pasta, the dining service team aimed for more sophisticated restaurant-style items.

Along with being gluten-free, Risley is also peanut free and tree-nut free.

The dining room is the second college eatery...

Industry News & Opinion

James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., recently hosted a weeklong program called Weigh the Waste, which aimed to show students how much food gets wasted in dining halls, The Breeze reports.

Throughout the week, students placed food they were about to throw away on a scale located near the trash bins at one of their dining halls. At the end of the week, the school tallied the waste and saw that 817 pounds of food had been wasted.

School officials hope that the annual program, which it’s hosted since 2015, will remind dining hall patrons to only take as much food as...

FSD Resources