One of the hard-to-fill positions at the Public School System has finally been filled following the hiring of nutritionist Kaisa Anderson, who was introduced to the Board of Education on Friday.
Anderson is a registered dietitian who obtained her bachelor’s degree in Nutrition at the Utah State University in Logan, Utah. She completed an internship working with WIC participants; was a clinical dietitian for Jordan Valley Medical Center; counseled kidney dialysis patients at Liberty Dialysis; and worked in Food and Nutrition Services for Jordan School District.
She told Saipan Tribune yesterday that she began work for an eating disorder treatment center soon after completing her internship, supervising the culinary staff, teaching cooking classes, and planning the menu for patients.
She is interested most in child nutrition, which is what drew her to PSS.
When asked about her priorities as the new nutritionist for public schools, she replied: “I hope to implement support to teachers for nutrition education in the classrooms. It is so important to promote healthy eating and activity for the students of [the] CNMI. It is everyone’s goal that our kids grow up healthy and strong.”
Anderson’s arrival is welcome news for PSS, which has been operating without a nutritionist since last year after the departure of Dianne Esplin.
Education Commissioner Dr. Rita A. Sablan said that Anderson’s entry will ensure that the implementation of PSS’ wellness policy and nutrition education programs will be back in order, as they should be.
Having a nutritionist, according to Sablan, will ensure that public school students are eating nutritious meals. Anderson, she added, will make sure that PSS’ menus are consistent with federal guidelines.
PSS serves 14,000 breakfast and lunch meals daily to public and private schools.
According to Sablan, PSS has been periodically reviewing the food menus offered to students. She disclosed that the next review is in January, during which potential changes may be decided.
In May this year, some Board of Education officials disclosed that school meals are turning off students, prompting the board to call for a comprehensive review of the existing menus. They said the revision of school meals is necessary to prevent wasting funds on food items that children just throw away.
School meals in both public and private schools are funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
According to Sablan, revising the school menu is always a possibility each year but there must be a survey or study that needs to be conducted first that will support the desired change.