SNF Scholarship Series: ANC First Timer Chiquita Coston, Business Manager, Central Office, Diocese of Baton Rouge Child Nutrition Program, Louisiana

Welcome to the 2016 SNF Scholarship Series! We are thrilled to revisit this popular series, in which we connect with your SNA colleagues from around the country to learn more about them and how an SNF scholarship is helping them pursue goals and achieve their dreams. Our First Timer recipients were nominated by a supervising director to attend their first Annual National Conference in San Antonio, Texas. We’ll meet our First Timers and their directors in the weeks leading up to ANC. Please visit the SNA website to learn more about ANC 2016 in San Antonio.

Chiquita Coston has been with the Catholic Schools Office of the Diocese of Baton Rouge child nutrition department for ten years, beginning as an administrative assistant and then moving into her current position as business manager two years ago. Her director Lynda Carville says that when she first met Chiquita—or “C.C.” for short—it was “love at first sight.”

“I knew immediately it was going to work,” recalled Carville. “C.C. has a broad background; she moved to Baton Rouge from New Orleans after hurricane Katrina, she was in the military, she’s a single mom, she also has her own mom [to care for], she has police experience. I was a notorious sight around Kelly Services, because I could never find the right person. That experience made her a beautiful fit. She runs the show, not me!”

An SNA member from the very start, Coston says that her association membership has been extremely valuable to her professional development.

“I’ve been to several state conferences and it’s always a good educational and networking opportunity,” she said. “I’ve never been to a national, so I’m excited to learn a lot. At ANC I will be looking for information to help us enhance the [child nutrition] program—ways to increase participation, strategies we may not know about that other schools have tried.”

Sending Coston to a national conference has always been on Carville’s wish list, but with two young children Coston was reluctant to travel. Now that the kids are a little older, the time seemed right.

“With [the kids grown] C.C. felt it was important [to attend] and San Antonio is close, so she can drive,” said Carville. “She’s taking her children and her mother and they are making a family trip out of it. I’m so happy they are coming along for the experience, and can see what she does at work.”

Coston also values her close working relationship with Carville. She says that they “share a brain” and make a great team.

“Let’s put it this way, if she’s thinking something it will probably come out of my mouth!” laughed Coston. “We work well together, and she depends on me for a lot.”

Carville concurs, and says that Coston keeps all of the moving parts moving in the right direction in her child nutrition department.

“C.C. keeps me and everyone else in line. She has a huge responsibility; the budget, the claims, the personnel—she’s involved in everything. She’s trustworthy, she has sound judgment, and you don’t run across many people in your lifetime you can confide in at work. I am very, very blessed to have her.”

Looking ahead to San Antonio, Carville knows that C.C. will approach the conference with energy and determination, and will learn as much as possible to bring back to their district.

“She’s the type of person who will take in everything,” said Carville. “That’s the thing that always surprises me about C.C.—she always, always wants to do better and she is all about our program. She is already looking at classes to increase her knowledge.”

Coston says that she would love to increase participation at breakfast, and would like to learn more about breakfast-in-the-classroom during her time in San Antonio. She is eager to meet and learn from her peers from across the country.

“I’m expecting to network and talk to people outside of Louisiana to see what’s going on out there in school nutrition,” said Coston. “I want to learn new ways of doing things, new ideas; I want to see things I haven’t seen before. I’m going to learn what others are doing that is successful, and what makes it successful, so I can bring it back to Baton Rouge and try it here.”

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