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Published: Wednesday, 1/25/2006

Sylvania: New hire will combine food, purchasing management

BY MIKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

She's been in the job for only about a week in Sylvania schools, but Savita Jindal is eager to put to use her abilities in food management and purchasing management.

Ms. Jindal has a master's degree in business administration and in home economics, and said that when she saw an ad in the newspaper for the position with the school system that combined both, she applied.

The job entails the food service at the district's 12 school buildings but also oversees all purchasing of supplies other than those related to computer systems.

She said that adequate systems seem in place for the job's basic functions, but she intends to take a lead in the district's push to stress nutrition in school meals.

A committee has been formed to establish a policy for Sylvania schools regarding health and nutrition for students.

Nancy Crandell, a spokesman for the schools, said the committee intends to have a policy to present to the board of education in May.

In addition to food service, she said, the committee will address issues involving overall fitness by incorporating issues into health and physical-education classes.

The committee is starting a little later than hoped for, she added, because of the retirement of Herb Burnap and the hiring of Ms. Jindal to his position.

Brad Rieger, superintendent of Sylvania schools, said Ms. Jindal intends to take an active role in the community to stress healthful eating.

"It's not the traditional role of a food-service director,'' but he said schools need to take a more active role in urging that people eat foods which are good for them.

Ms. Jindal said one of her biggest challenges and part of what the committee will deal with is not only offering nutritious meals, but getting students to buy and eat them.

She said some of that can be dealt with in preparation and in an appealing presentation, but she also hopes to increase students' acceptance of healthy choices be enlisting their help in menu selection.

"I want to form clubs in all the buildings, like a French club or other special-interest group," and have the students be part of the decision-making process in food choices.

"The kids are as health-conscious as we are, but we just don't give them the credit,'' Ms. Jindal said.

She is a registered dietician and said changing school menus "because I want to make the change'' won't be successful.

Healthful food is "no good if it's not eaten,'' she added, stressing the need to get children involved in the process.

The school system has traditionally lost between $120,000 and $150,000 annually because it tries to keep prices affordable for students, Mr. Rieger said.

He and Ms. Jindal both said that trying to get close to even is a goal, but the superintendent said that changing the bottom line shouldn't be done by feeding students food that isn't nutritious.

Ms. Jindal was most recently employed with the Lucas County Senior Nutrition Program, overseeing 25 sites and more than 1,400 home-delivered meals.

She said that job also allowed her to utilize some of her management abilities but that the Sylvania position seemed like the kind of job she had always wanted.

Her management degree was earned in her native India, and her home economics degree is from Ball State University in Indiana.

She came to the United States in 1981 a year after her husband, Kris, arrived continue his education. Their children are graduates of Sylvania schools.



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