Englewood Schools has a new Director of Food & Nutrition Services! Get to know more about Katie Cossette, her passion for school lunches, and the experience she brings to the role.
What is your background, and what drew you to the position in Englewood Schools?
I am a graduate of Johnson & Wales University (2007: AS in Culinary Arts, 2013: BS in Culinary Nutrition.) I am a Registered Dietitian and School Nutrition Specialist.
I have been a chef for over a decade; including the Executive Chef of an independent restaurant in Atlanta, GA at 22 years old. My career in schools started as the Assistant Director of Nutrition Services in Adams 14 school district in 2013 specializing in menu/recipe development, nutrition education and staff development/retention. There, I fell in love with the challenges school nutrition presents in terms of plate cost, quality products, and USDA nutrient guidelines that restrict what many schools can do. Creating change in how people view school lunch has become my personal mission.
We started small in Adams 14 with our menu, getting feedback from students and training staff on cooking principles. The menu grew over time, expanding on scratch-made items and innovative menus such as scratch-made posole, build your own burrito bar, etc. After that experience, I felt ready for growth and ready to take my passion to a new district to expand on their existing program. Englewood was the perfect fit for me due to the district's and community's ambitions for healthy and delicious school meals.
Why are you so passionate about school lunches?
I am passionate about food and sharing the experience of food with others. Food is a major piece in our lives and we choose to gather around food during holidays and special events. Teaching students about health and giving them exposure to foods they may not have tasted or have seen is a joy. I want to push what is now seen as school lunch to be an exciting meal experience for the student. I also want to ensure that my staff has pride and professionalism in serving the meal that meets the intent of the Child Nutrition Program/National School Lunch Program.
What do you love about the Englewood food & nutrition services program, and what do you want to change?
I love the staff. They are eager to grow their skill set and are up to new challenges. I love the district's focus on health & wellness and how active the district is in creating a healthy environment for students.
I want to expand on the existing menu, providing more options for students and more variety. My short-term goal is to create a student advisory committee to get student input on new recipes, menu items, etc.
What hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?
I really enjoy traveling and experiencing new cultures. I went to Cuba in March 2017, Spain and Morocco in April 2016 and am traveling to China this year.
I love gardening; I always have a large vegetable garden in the summer.
I enjoy hiking with my 230 lbs. Great Dane, Karl.
Recently, I have gotten into restoring furniture, mostly antiques.