Emma Anne Hallman was born for this. Raised by educators, she grew up knowing the importance of a strong school community. Now, as the Child Nutrition Director at Haleyville City School District in Haleyville, Alabama, Emma Anne and her team provide daily meals to about 1,700 students, and with over 60% of students getting free and reduced meals, those meals really count.
But she doesn’t want to take all the credit. “My team has been amazing at being flexible and innovative with whatever challenge is put in front of them. Child nutrition professionals are a force to be reckoned with!” We couldn’t agree more.
“We started off this school year thinking, there’s no way we can make it past the first two weeks. We wanted to be innovative and try new things, but at the same time we had to learn what was best for us. Learn from your mistakes and build on those. Our operation changed as we learned and built upon our practices weekly.”
Know Your Audience
“Here in the south, people like their biscuits for breakfast.” Having Pillsbury easy split biscuits on the serving line weekly was a crowd pleaser. “We serve all of our breakfast from carts in the hallway of each grade for students to grab on their way into class. With no more traditional serving lines, we used the General Mills insulated bags to keep items like the Mini Pancakes warm!”
The year 2021 taught Emma Anne the importance of social media for her school’s nutrition program. “We don’t want to hide behind these walls – we want to get our name out there and let them know what’s happening in our schools to provide the true picture.” Being active on social media has helped Haleyville City School District connect with families, as well as volunteers that help package meals.
Students at the school built a refrigerated trailer, dubbed the “Cool Bot,” which Emma Anne and team were able to use to store milk for curbside feeding. Plus, a grant from the Dairy Alliance allowed the nutrition program to buy it from the students in order to use it full-time.
What Does the Future Look Like?
Haleyville City School District is going to operate a summer feeding program for the first time in summer 2021. "What started out as a problem is going to turn into a benefit for many of our families through these summer months," said Emma Anne, seeing the silver lining.
Keep in touch with Emma Anne and the Haleyville City School District on Facebook.
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