How Metro Schools' Nutrition Services is preparing for the new school year

image06402 In less than a week, Dr. Braina Corke, the assistant director of Nutrition Services, will be a part of her 19th first day of school with Metro Schools. She is most excited for school to return so she will know students are receiving hot meals again—and completely free of charge.

“The opportunity to serve great meals again to our students warms my heart,” Corke said.

What has kept her here for so long? Her love of the people -- the students and her employees. Corke started as a nutrition services clerk almost two decades ago, with focus, additional schooling and professional development, she worked her way up to a leadership role. In 2016 she earned her doctorate. Now in addition to being Dr. Corke, she is also president Corke. She was recently named the president of the Tennessee School Nutrition Association, an association that focuses on the advancement and promotion of good nutrition for all children, lifelong wellness and professional growth and development for nutrition services professionals.

Corke and her team have been preparing for the school year all summer, but have recently geared up in the weeks before with staff hiring, kitchen and menu prep and required professional development. Along with general classroom training and workshops, Corke makes sure her staff knows how important high-quality and joyful service is to the department.  Her advice to her staff is to always treat students with kindness, respect, be friendly and smile. Your students cannot only expect a healthy and delicious meal, but great customer service and a friendly greeting.

“We are here for the students— for some these school meals are the only ones they receive,” Corke said.  “Every student has a story, so it is our job to make sure they receive a meal and our best service.”

Parents may not know that cafeteria staff require a certain number of professional development hours each school semester. Two weeks before school began, hundreds of managers met for a three day professional development and training. All MNPS managers are Servsafe certified, a national certification administered by the National Restaurant Association. The program specializes in teaching and certifying responsible food service measures and prepares staff to implement essential food safety practices and create a culture of food safety.

What’s new this year in MNPS cafes? Middle and high school students can look forward to “Flavor Stations.” Flavor Stations will be in all MNPS cafeterias to offer a set of low and no calorie spices and herbs for kids to shake on their vegetables and entrees to boost flavor.

Another change -- six hour employees have been changed to seven hour employees. While this may not seem like a big deal to an outsider, not only does this give staff more hours a week to improve their income and increase the value of their job, but most importantly it gives staff the opportunity to add more prep time to meals for students. This means more healthy hand-made recipes. Overall it will lead to better customer service from happier employees and high quality meals for students.

Did You Know?

  • All Students receive meals at no cost
  • All Students receive breakfast
  • If your student has special dietary needs, the Nutrition Services Department can help! Call the Nutrition Services Department before the school year starts and they will be happy to help and make sure your child’s needs are met. 615-259-8472 or 615-259-8467

Below are some important take-aways from the nutrition services policy. These are guidelines that our nutrition services staff abide by all of our schools. Review the wellness policy to get understanding of the guidelines and resources available to students.

School Meals (Pre-K-12)

  • Meals served through the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs will
  • Be appealing and attractive to children.
  • Be served in clean and pleasant settings.
  • Meet, USDA’s “All Foods Sold in Schools” standards.
  • Offer a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Serve only low-fat and fat-free milk and nutritionally-equivalent non-dairy alternatives (to be defined by USDA).
  • Ensure the offering of whole grains as prescribed by USDA.

Breakfast (Pre-K-12)

  • Operate the National School Breakfast Program.
  • Encourage all children have breakfast, either at home or at school.
  • Arrange bus schedules, to the greatest extent possible, in order to utilize methods of serving school breakfasts that encourage participation, including serving breakfast in the classroom, "grab-and-go" breakfast, or breakfast during morning break or recess.
  • Notify parents and students of the availability of the National School Breakfast Program (for schools that serve breakfast).
  • Encourage parents, through flyers, posters and school newsletter article, to provide a healthy breakfast for their children.

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