BY DONNA HARRIS
In just a few months, Bartow County Schools’ new nutrition director has determined that the excellent reputation of the district she heard about is true.
Betsy Roam had heard good things about the heads of the school system, which is why she had applied for the vacant position as Director of Nutrition and was hired as a division manager in September.
“Bartow County has a wonderful reputation for treating its employees well,” she said. “I’m happy to say that Bartow lived up to his reputation.”
Name: Betsy Roam
Age: 28 years
Job title: School nutrition director
Education: My educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and food science with a specialization in dietetics from Georgia Southern University. At my alma mater, I also did my diet internship and my master’s certificate with a focus on school nutrition.
The Daily Tribune News (DTN): What are your job responsibilities?
Betsy Roam (BR): My responsibilities include overseeing all aspects of the district’s child nutrition program. The functions include managing, planning, directing, accessing, implementing and evaluating the program to meet the nutritional and educational needs of children regarding the CNP.
DTN: How and when did you get interested in making school nutrition a job?
BR: In college, I took a course called Cultural Foods, where we learned how a person’s relationship with food as a child affects their self-care habits, physical and mental health for the rest of their life. The professor in this class, Rebecca Larson, structured her coursework so that students learn through learning. Instead of having a written test for our final exam, we should complete a presentation describing what we learned during the course. For my final I decided to test what I learned. I went to daycare, elementary school, middle school, and high school to interview students about their favorite foods. Participants answered two questions: what is your favorite food and why? Each participant had remarkably similar responses, all of which proved that the environment we are in at mealtimes dramatically affects our sympathy for the foods we eat. Each participant linked their favorite meal with a positive memory. After completing this project, I realized that I wanted to devote my career to creating positive experiences for children during meals.
DTN: What do you like most about work in school nutrition and why and what do you like least about it and why?
BR: I love to see growth in our department so we can better serve the students. It looks different every day. Some examples are finding a more efficient process for optimizing resources, resolving conflicts between employees, attracting new customers by trying new foods, or working successfully with other departments in our school system.
DTN: How many years in total have you worked in school nutrition, what other schools have you worked in and how long have you been in each school?
BR: During my diet internship, I worked in Wayne, Liberty, Burke, and Bulloch Counties schools. I have had the privilege of serving as School Nutrition Director in Coffee County, Gordon County, and now Bartow County. I worked as a nutrition director for about 3½ years.
DTN: What do you like to do when you are not working?
BR: I love being on the water, whether you’re fishing or relaxing on the beach. I enjoy being outside and experiencing new things.
DTN: How would you describe yourself in three words?
BR: Persistent, hardworking, passionate
DTN: If you could attend a time period or event in the past, which one would you choose and why?
BR: I would have loved to meet my parents and grandparents when they were kids. I’m so interested in how each person’s life experiences make him who he is today.
DTN: Do you have a bucket list and if so, what are you most looking forward to?
BR: I’m excited about eliminating food insecurity for children. To do this, we need to make all meals available to them. I dream of the day I work in a neighborhood where we serve breakfast, lunch and dinner to students.