What experiences influence the way you work?
While much of my career is focused on food and nutrition decisions that impact thousands of students, I really enjoy the opportunity to cook and educate kids on food. In college I was offered an internship at Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) and was later hired as staff after I graduated. This work has influenced the way I approach my current career in school nutrition and farm to school programming.
While working at Cornell Cooperative Extension, I taught hands-on family cooking classes, taste tested food made with local in-season ingredients at farmers markets, and created easy ingredient-friendly recipes for all to enjoy. The lessons I learned have remained with me as I approach recipe development using New York ingredients for students to taste test and schools to menu.
My past experiences have taught me that the ease of a recipe and how it tastes is key to success. Without this, people are not likely to make it or taste it and it’s not nutrition until it is consumed.
What kind of education or experience prepared you for this work?
Growing up on a farm in upstate New York gave me an appreciation for food and agriculture, but it was not until many years later working on farm to school where my passion come full circle. Working on the farm was hard work. As a teen, I envied other kids who did not spend summers in a hay mow or milking cows, but looking back, those experiences taught me valuable lessons about hard work, perseverance, and teamwork.
While I took another career path to become a registered dietitian, years later my work now centers not just on school nutrition but integrating farm to school from a procurement and education perspective. With my background in agriculture and nutrition, I hope to make a long-lasting impact on the schools I work with and others across the state as we continue to incorporate more local products on menus and agriculture education in the classrooms throughout the community.
"I hope to make a long-lasting impact on the schools I work with and across the state as we continue to incorporate more local products on menus and agriculture education in the classrooms."
Why is your work important?
The impacts of school nutrition and farm to school programs reach well beyond schools and students. While these programs are essential in providing nourishment and instilling life-long eating habits in students, communities are also impacted. School nutrition programs are one partner in alleviating childhood hunger and supporting families. Furthermore, farm to school programs are a win for kids, farmers, and communities. Kids get to enjoy fresh local nutritious food while supporting local jobs and the local economy. There is nothing better than tasting an apple or tomato that has traveled just a few miles to the school. It also feels great to support local farmers who then support the community.
"There is nothing better than tasting an apple or tomato that has traveled just a few miles to the school."
Even for those who are not directly involved in these programs, the communities we live in are highly impacted, which influences each individual.
What gives you hope for the future of your work and where do you hope your work will lead you?
The COVID-19 pandemic brought school nutrition to the forefront as school nutrition providers shifted from providing in-school meals to remote, hybrid, and classroom meals. It also created a focus on supporting the local food supply chain. I am hopeful that celebrating the essential services that School Nutrition Programs provide has helped elevate the work and importance of universal meals for all students as well as providing access to fresh local food. I have a passion for fresh tasty local food and hope that my work continues to share this passion with others - especially kids as they learn and explore food.
- Leadership team member with Cornell Cooperative Extension Farm to School Program Work Team
- Farm to School Chair of New York School Nutrition Association
- Registered dietitian with Broome-Tioga BOCES
- jraway [at] btboces.org
- Binghamton, NY
- Find Julie on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @JulieRaway
- Julie’s LinkedIn Profile
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