Scholarship Allows Child Nutrition Program Director to Attend Training

Oklahoma recipient uses travel funds to attend session at UM Institute of Child Nutrition

Orientation to School Nutrition Management trainers Becki Schreiber (left) and Susan Wood (right) welcome Kayla Steverson, recipient of the Paul Schmitz Child Nutrition Scholarship, to the weeklong training course at the University of Mississippi’s Institute for Child Nutrition. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has awarded a Paul Schmitz Child Nutrition Scholarship to Kayla Steverson, a clinical dietician recently promoted to child nutrition program manager for public schools in Newcastle, Oklahoma, to attend the Orientation to School Nutrition Management course provided by the Institute of Child Nutrition.

Created in 2005, the Paul Schmitz Child Nutrition Scholarship awards travel reimbursement scholarships to professionals employed in a federal, state or local child nutrition program from the USDA Southwest Region to attend an ICN Orientation to School Nutrition Management training.

“Orientation to School Nutrition Management is one of ICN’s signature trainings designed for new and aspiring directors,” said Aleisha Hall-Campbell, ICN executive director. “This weeklong training provides competency-based information and essential components for the operation of cost-effective, customer-orientated school nutrition programs.

“It is a great opportunity for attendees to interact with experienced directors teaching the course, as well as connect with peers who may be experiencing similar challenges in a new position of operating a school nutrition program.”

After Steverson became a program manager, she decided that she needed to learn more to feel confident in her new position, so she became interested in the ICN training course.

“I have learned so much since starting in this position, but every time I turn around, there is something else I haven’t quite gotten down yet,” Steverson wrote in her application. “I believe that Orientation to School Nutrition Management would help me become the knowledgeable, successful child nutrition director I want to be.”

Steverson comes from a small school district that does not have a budget to support a weeklong training event in Oxford, so she applied for the scholarship. She recently attended a summer session.

Steverson said she found the sessions about financial management, operations management and farm-to-school programs to be the most beneficial. In fact, she wishes she had received this training two years ago when she was learning how to be a director.

“We received some state training, but it was not as comprehensive as this one,” she said. “I talked with my new boss, who is familiar with ICN’s training, and he said, ‘Yes, this is the training to go to.'”

Steverson said she appreciated the networking opportunities and hands-on activities in the session.

“There have been lots of activities and teamwork that has kept it really interesting and fun,” she said. “The instructors are so sweet and approachable, and I would say the same thing about the whole staff here.”

“We have gotten to meet the ICN executive director. The institute’s staff has been the definition of Southern hospitality as I have never experienced before.”

Before attending the training session, Steverson accepted a 12-month position of child nutrition supervisor at Edmond Public Schools in Oklahoma. She will report directly to the child nutrition director and will oversee nutrition programs in a third of the schools in the district. 

Steverson said the knowledge she gained at the orientation will be very helpful in her new position.

The Institute of Child Nutrition, housed at UM, is the only federally funded center for training food service professionals about proper preparation and nutrition of our children’s food on a national and international scale. For more information about the institute, visit