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home : community : education November 24, 2017

11/11/2017 12:11:00 AM
Gaston County School Employee Has Enthusiasm For Nutrition
Joanne Kirven(Photo Courtesy Gaston County Schools)

Joanne Kirven

(Photo Courtesy Gaston County Schools)

Todd Hagans
Chief Communications Officer

GASTONIA, N.C. - Every October, schools celebrate National School Lunch Week, a time to recognize the hard work and diligent efforts of school nutrition staff and school cafeteria employees.  They are the people responsible for preparing healthy meals for students.  In Gaston County, their efforts result in 21,000 lunch meals every day (and 9,000 breakfast meals, too).

Joanne Kirven, an area coordinator for the Gaston County Schools Nutrition Department, won the 2017 Martha Gomer Spirit Award.  It’s a statewide honor presented by the School Nutrition Association of North Carolina that recognizes an individual for having a strong commitment to school nutrition.

To put Kirven in the spotlight, she was asked five questions.  Here is what she had to say.

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How did it feel to win the Martha Gomer Spirit Award? I was totally blown away and delighted, of course.  To be recognized as the area supervisor/coordinator of the year for North Carolina is a great honor.  I really enjoy what I do knowing that we make a difference.  Being able to do my job with a smile on my face is very important to me.  I give 100 percent to what I do regardless of whether I am recognized or not, but it was wonderful to receive the recognition.

What does an area coordinator do?  I am responsible for 18 school cafeterias plus special diets.  We have about 800 children with special diet requirements.  I recently became credentialed as a school nutrition specialist.  This was something I chose to do as I strive to learn more and do an even better job.

How long have you been with Gaston County Schools? I have been with Gaston County Schools for just over three years, but I started my school nutrition career with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in 2007.  School nutrition is my second career.  I came to it as I returned to work after staying home with my children.  My degree is in food service management and my first career was in business and industry food service.  

What is your favorite part about being involved in school nutrition? My favorite part is the fact that we make a huge difference in the lives of the students.  Children cannot learn if they are hungry.  I believe we are the unsung heroes of students’ success.

It seems only fitting to ask: What is your favorite meal? For full disclosure, I must confess that my husband is chef-trained, and so I do not do too much cooking at home.  My favorite meal probably is pan-seared scallops with wilted garlic spinach, but to be totally honest, my favorite thing is the time and fellowship enjoyed by sitting around a dinner table with family and great friends.

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