MEET CASEY PARTAIN
As Foodservice Director for the Marshall, Alabama school district, Registered Dietician Casey Partain brings unbridled passion and energy to her job. Now in her ninth year, Casey and her team are constantly exploring smarter ways to feed a district population of 5,900 students of all income levels, spanning four different school feeder patterns across the county.
First a tornado, then a pandemic
In January 2020, one school campus was hit by a devastating tornado, which left students with no access to the school and forced Casey’s team to quickly devise alternative feeding plans. This tragic incident would be a trial-run for the COVID chaos to come.
Though everything shut down during the spring of 2020, Casey’s crew has been innovating ever since. That includes securing fresh produce from local growers for district families during summer 2020, using individually wrapped breakfast and lunch items to optimize classroom feeding for SY2020-21, and relaunching the district’s summer feeding program in 2021.
As restrictions eased this year, Casey hung onto popular grab-n-go offerings from last year while restoring hot breakfast faves such as sausage biscuit sandwiches, as well as Yoplait™ ParfaitPro for build-your-own smoothies. “The last two years were tough,” she said, “but our team got through it – and we became stronger and closer because of it.”
Casey also discovered one other positive aspect from COVID: It taught her to embrace change. “I was always a die-hard planner, but I’ve had a shift in mindset. I’ve learned to relax and roll with whatever comes my way. Now I get excited about new changes and challenges, so that’s been a blessing.”
- Use social media with photos to show off exciting recipes and cafeteria events, gauge parent feedback and recruit new staff members.
- Create colorful promotions and contests during holidays and special events, and get everyone in on the fun.
- For example, every Christmas, Casey’s staff members take turns in displaying the Elf on the Shelf – they love being able to spread some Christmas joy, and the kids love finding out what the elf is up to each day.
- Be different – students want to try new things and shake it up, so don’t be afraid to explore.
Go-to General Mills products
For Casey and her staff, the taste, quality and low-contact convenience of General Mills products really came through during COVID’s restrictions – especially these student favorites:
- - General Mills Bowlpak cereals
- - Yoplait™ Horchata Yogurt – a big hit with her Hispanic students
- - Pillsbury™ Mini Cinnis, Mini Pancakes and Cheesy Pull-Aparts
- - Betty Crocker™ Chocolate Chip Bars
With a growing staff, a deep passion for student nutrition and her boundless energy, this Trayblazer is just getting started! Follow Casey and her team as they meet the ongoing needs of the Marshall school community.
Website : http://www.marshallk12.org/
Facebook : @MarshallCountyCNP
Twitter : @Marshall_CNP