FACES: Julie Tunseth strives to pass on her enthusiasm about food to students
Creating healthy meals for Grand Forks school students makes Julie Tunseth feel good. The Grand Forks Public Schools child nutrition food service director gets satisfaction from her job, which involves everything to finding and testing out nutrit...
Creating healthy meals for Grand Forks school students makes Julie Tunseth feel good.
The Grand Forks Public Schools child nutrition food service director gets satisfaction from her job, which involves everything to finding and testing out nutritious recipes, to meeting with students about school lunches to ordering the school district's food.
"What's nice about my job, it's loaded with a variety of things I do," said Tunseth. Last week, for example, she met with students at J. Nelson Kelly Elementary School about their school lunches. She also does taste-testing of new foods, including varieties of fruits and vegetables, with school district staff and students.
"I have a passion for food. Food is fun," Tunseth said.
A graduate of NDSU with a major in Home Economics education and family development, Tunseth also taught life skills and occupational skills at Central for several years. She has worked as Grand Forks nutrition director for 21 years.
Part of Tunseth's job is to oversee the food service staff and to teach them about nutrition and encourage them to introduce new menu choices.
"I think it's really important to get these guys excited about food. They're the face of food," said Tunseth, nodding toward the food service workers who were getting ready to serve lunch at Central High School last week.
"Julie puts so much heart into her job it gets us all excited," said Kathy Sauvageau, cook manager at Central.
Tunseth believes that growing up on a family farm near Mayville, N.D., ignited that passion. Her mom taught her to cook, garden and can produce, she said. Gathering around the table to eat was not just about sustenance, but also a social time for Tunseth and her family.
"We knew that food was important. We knew that food was a celebration," she said.
Tunseth has instilled that interest in food in her own children who are now grown and bring their own signature dishes to family celebrations. Tunseth continues to garden, raises chickens and cooks for herself and her husband, making big Saturday and Sunday dinners.
"It's fun to see the whole food cycle," she said.
In her job as child nutrition food service director, Tunseth strives to pass on her enthusiasm about food to students.
Because Tunseth wants to give the students a variety of food choices, she is in close contact with food service providers so she knows about products available. She also is constantly searching for new recipes and then tests them herself.
"I actually put the hair net on. I have all the employees try it."
"Cooking for 5,000 is challenging. Changing the recipe so it still looks like it's homemade and still looks good. The presentation is very important.
"Taking a small recipe, it takes three or four times to get it right for district-wide (distribution). That's the fun job."
"I like to cook and I like to get kids to enjoy food. It's exciting to see kids try something different."
Reach Bailey at (701) 787-6753; (800) 477-6572, ext. 753; or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org .