Introducing: Julie Cockrum, Nutrition Education & Training Supervisor
April 14th, 2021
We’d like to introduce you to our new Nutrition Education & Training Supervisor, Julie Cockrum. Joining the team in the fall, Julie dove headfirst into the job, bringing her experience and insight to bear.
A San Diego native, Julie received her Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition from San Diego State. While there she worked with children in a local YMCA and began to see how her education in nutrition could impact future generations.
Says Julie, “After college, I worked in a skilled nursing facility as a food service dietary supervisor. I went on to get my license to be a dietitian through Utah State University, which they do their emphasis on school nutrition programs.”
From there, Julie worked with the Lemon Grove School District as a Production Lead in the district’s Child Nutrition Department, honing her skills and returning to working with children. While there she finished her Masters’ degree in Dietetic Administration, also from Utah State.
“I’ve always liked working with kids,” she says. “Working in a nursing home, I found out that I like food service, but I wanted to do something working with the next generation.”
Coming to Vista and WaveCrest Cafe in the midst of a pandemic, Julie was already prepared for the twists and turns of a changing environment. “Foodservice changes every day, and I like challenges. We do a lot of pivoting and problem solving, but we’re kind of used to that. I think working in foodservice, where change is constant, sets us up to be able to handle anything.”
Julie’s day-to-day work revolves around supervision, equipping the WaveCrest staff, and planning the menu, which is no small task in the current environment. “We try to really help equip the staff to ensure that menus and recipes are being followed, and that they work well for our students and that the students like the food,” says Julie.
Her favorite part of the job so far? “I like to make new recipes, test out new foods, and introduce new foods to students that they might not have experienced before. I want to help them develop healthy habits in their life.”
As for where those recipes come from, Julie looks at trends and works with vendors to source foods that are appealing to students and also meet the nutritional requirements set for school meals.
“I find some ideas on Pinterest,” she says, “and I get lots of information from vendors about how things are trending. I may see that one has an Asian soup that looks good, and we’ll test that out. And we talk with the staff to learn what they are seeing and hearing from students. They have good ideas and pass along things that students ask for. Finding menu items comes from all over.”
Feedback is a key to the job and has led to one of WaveCrest’s newest offerings: bulk produce for those participating in the Vista Virtual meal distribution each Wednesday. Each week features a different mix of fresh, seasonal fruits & vegetables in quantities that let families prepare foods together in a variety of ways. This feature came in part through responding to feedback from parents and families,
“We were hearing from families and staff about the difficulty of getting small side portions of produce,” says Julie. “So we looked at possible solutions and thought it would be beneficial if we could provide bigger quantities of fruits and vegetables that families could use more easily in preparing meals. Families seem to love it, and it actually makes the process easier for our staff, so it’s a win-win.”
We’re thrilled to have Julie as part of our team and bringing her expertise, passion, and excellence to the WaveCrest Cafe family. Welcome aboard!