Melanie Moyer and San Diego Unified
In the world of school food, Melanie Moyer has the magic touch when it comes to developing school menus. Melanie serves as the Menu Systems Development Dietitian for San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD), and in this role she goes above and beyond to ensure featured options are of great quality and will be enjoyed by students of all ages. Melanie also takes time to personally meet with vendors and test products for strategic menu placement. Through Melanie’s efforts, students at SDUSD have the opportunity to enjoy healthy menu options which also taste great.
SDUSD is the second largest school district in California, and Melanie finds it very rewarding to serve quality food for students in a district of this size. Melanie explains, “No two days are the same, and it’s always fun. I get to leave work happy and fulfilled. I work with a really great team of people who are all excited about what we do, which is serving healthy food to our students.”
Melanie Moyer, San Diego Unified School District
In addition to meeting with vendors, Melanie also oversees the procurement of produce for SDUSD’s Harvest of the Month (HOTM) program, which educates students on California-grown fruits and vegetables. The district utilizes a seasonal calendar for San Diego, which features six different fruits and vegetables each season.
Through HOTM, districts are able to increase the access to and consumption of locally grown fruits and vegetables in their school meal programs. The program is designed to increase students’ preference for fruits and vegetables and expand their familiarity with California-grown produce and local farmers. In addition to the seasonal calendar, HOTM provides lessons and activities for students to engage in hands-on opportunities to explore, taste, and learn about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables. Melanie feels SDUSD’s Child Nutrition Services department can encourage students and faculty to appreciate local food through the program. “Not only are we doing Harvest of the Month to educate our students, but it’s also a learning experience for our staff, myself included. I feel very fortunate that this is a learning opportunity for myself.”
To learn more about the HOTM program, please click here.
Melanie also does her part to support local communities by partnering with farmers in San Diego County and throughout California to bring fresh, healthy, and local produce to students within the district. Through connecting directly with farmers, Melanie emphasizes the importance of supporting San Diego agriculture. “It has opened my eyes to how much we grow locally and the diversity of the produce that can grow here,” Melanie mentions.
Melanie is also excited by the opportunity to taste different types of produce you would not traditionally buy at a grocery store. Prior to working at SDUSD, Melanie had never tasted a guava or a persimmon, but thanks to working with local farmers, these items have become two of her favorite fruits. During the fall months, SDUSD purchases Organic Fuyu persimmons from Ron and Kathy Sahu, owners of Sahu Subtropicals located in Rainbow, California. Click here, to learn more about Fuyu Persimmons from Ron Sahu.
The menus offered at SDUSD are diverse and include as many fresh and healthy foods as possible. More plant based menu choices are in the process of being developed, tested, and tweaked on an ongoing basis to transition to cleaner and healthier entrée options
Some SDUSD menus have even started to feature a mushroom blended beef burger to increase the awareness of plant based proteins.
Melanie has successfully used her role to develop great menus for students and advocate for the use of fresh, local ingredients. To learn more, you can access all of the menus Melanie has made online via the YumYummi website and app. “YumYummi provides the nutritional and allergen information of our food so parents can stay informed,” says Melanie enthusiastically, “we want families to be informed on what their kids are being served at their schools.” Melanie believes that in the digital age, it is important to utilize these apps to increase awareness and to shift the perception of today’s school food