By Ann Tarleton
Helping students to make healthy food choices is the primary reason for a partnership between the athletic training department and food service at St. Stephens Episcopal School. The aim is to highlight good nutrition and to make healthy foods available in the dining hall at mealtimes and in between.
The team effort began several years ago when Athletic Trainer Kathy Rainey started to give greater attention in health classes and in the training room to healthful food choices. Rainey enlisted
the aid of Donald Hungerford, Food Service Director, since his domain was the dining hall. The result of the partnership was a much-expanded menu that includes a designated serving line of healthy choices. It’s even brought fresh fruit and healthy snacks into the training room where young athletes tend to gather before and after athletic practice.
Rainey knows the value of good nutrition in supporting athletic performance. She also wants all student to have the benefit of better health through wiser eating. Hungerford’s view of the working deal is rooted in the culinary arts. It’s broader, though, than tasty dishes. “Chef Donnie” carefully plans for ethnic customs, varied menu items, and foods known to add some emotional comfort, especially when diners are far away from home or dealing with the stresses of adolescent life in general.
As a trainer, Rainey is especially focused on hydration and making nutrient-dense foods handy. As a chef, Hungerford has gone far beyond his years as a chef at the Headliner Club in Austin to offer a grand mix of foods at every meal, including deli and grill lines; featured Indian, Thai, Chinese, and Vietnamese dishes; a salad bar; a separate fruit bar; and a line where a plain deli sandwich can become a grilled Panini.
The partnership appears to be welcomed by students and staff, who create a welcoming atmosphere in the dining hall and who aren’t shy about adding foods to their plates. All inall, it looks like a successful working partnership. Whether the students realize it or not, they are reaping the benefits of good food, insightful professionals, and a dedicated staff who all want to see students healthy, happy, and well-nourished.