Jessica Keene, R.D.

Jessica has made an impact on foodservice by aligning menus to new regulations, managing special diets and implementing the TrakNOW system.

Details

Menu Systems Development Dietitian, San Diego Unified School District, San Diego, CA
Age: 28
Education: Masters in food and nutrition from the University of Georgia and B.S. in food science and human nutrition from the University of Florida
Years at organization: 2

Why Selected?

According to Gary Petill, food services director for San Diego Unified School District, Jessica has made an impact on foodservice by:

  • Aligning 40 menus to the new menu regulations. She very quickly streamlined the menus and successfully completed the validation process for the second largest district in the state. 
  • Writing, analyzing and managing 500-plus special diets. She has developed a close working relationship with district nursing staff and is a key member of the district’s wellness committee.
  • Developing, training and implementing the TrakNOW system for production planning and ordering, inventory management, recipe development and nutrition analysis. Through this system, the department has moved from the computer dark ages of a DOS-based system to a fully integrated computerized system.  

Get to know

Q. What has been your proudest accomplishment?

The wealth of knowledge I have gained about the industry in a relatively short period of time. I have always been lucky to have supervisors that have mentored me and have helped me grow in my career.

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

Never stop learning and always keep an open mind.

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

Having just started I was tasked with aligning the district’s 40 different menus with the new meal regulations, completing certification documentation and passing a validation audit for the state’s second largest district. It was a very busy and challenging first six months.

Q. What's been your most rewarding moment?

Keeping in touch with dietetic interns who have completed their internships and successfully passed their R.D. exams. Hearing of their success and knowing I was able to teach them about my field is very fulfilling.

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

I once fainted while touring a dialysis clinic—the sight of blood has always bothered me. Needless to say foodservice is a better fit for me than clinical work.

Q. What can you look back at now and laugh at?

I used to get stressed out so easily when something did not go as planned. I’ve learned to take everything in stride and always have plan B. But looking back it seems so silly to let the small things get to me.  

Q. What would you like to accomplish in your career short term?

To continue to grow in my position and learn as much as possible. The field of school nutrition is exciting, and you never know where it might take you next.

Under 30

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