In Their Own Words Part 4: Dr. Josephine Martin on the Importance of Membership, Continuing Education, and Individual Donations

snf50horizontalThis year marks the School Nutrition Foundation’s 50th anniversary. Since its founding in 1964, SNF has raised millions of dollars to provide a wide variety of scholarships, grants, research, training opportunities and technical assistance to school nutrition professionals at every level. Learn more about SNF’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, as well as donation and scholarship opportunities, and join us tonight for our Celebration of School Nutrition Heroes!

As we celebrate SNF’s 50th anniversary, we have been sharing video testimonials from school nutrition professionals across the country right here on the blog. When we were at ANC 2013 in Kansas City last summer, we had the opportunity to speak with many of you about why scholarships are so important, and how they have helped you advance your educations and careers. You can view these video testimonials by clicking on the links, below:

Dr Josephine Martin

Dr. Martin at ANC 2013 in Kansas City.

Our four-part series on the importance of scholarships culminates with our latest interview with the amazing Dr. Josephine Martin. Her career in child nutrition began in 1950, with the Georgia Department of Education, and she has created an enduring legacy for her fellow school foodservice professionals; her commitment to child nutrition is equaled only by her passion for public policy. Dr. Martin is the living history of school nutrition: in the 1960s she accompanied then Senator Herman Talmadge (D-Ga.) on a tour of hunger in Georgia, and she played an influential role in the passage of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966. The Dr. Josephine Martin National Policy Fellowship award was created in an effort to help support school nutrition professionals pursue their goals in the public policy arena.

We contacted Dr. Martin via email, to ask her to share some thoughts on SNF’s 50th Anniversary, and why individual member contributions are so important to the Foundation’s mission. Dr. Martin wrote the following reply:

Congratulations to SNF on its 50th Anniversary and celebration!  I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to SNA and SNF for the scholarship that I received in 1959, even before the SNF was established.  I recall clearly the excitement in opening the letter from the ASFSA (now SNA) President telling me the good news—that I had been awarded the first scholarship. Being a “pack rat” I savored the letter, and still have it.  The scholarship enabled me to complete a Master’s Degree—an accomplishment that opened doors to new opportunities in school nutrition that later empowered me to seek a Ph.D, and still greater opportunities for all children to have healthy meals and develop healthy food habits. Education and training doesn’t cost—it pays!  It provides a lot of satisfaction to know that you have joined thousands of others in making a difference.

 The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act recognized the need for USDA to establish education and training standards for all school nutrition personnel—including school nutrition assistants; managers; district supervisors and directors; and state agency directors as a means of helping to ensure that school nutrition programs meet the goal of healthy children ready to learn.  As a scholarship winner, I know my training helped open new doors and new opportunities and this made me want to “pay back” SNF in thanks for the new opportunities and personal joy that growing professionally means to me. I do this by donating regularly to SNF, and I encourage each of the 55,000 members to accept the challenge to support the Foundation with a regular donation.  Just think about how much the school nutrition personnel in your district would contribute to SNF annually if each person committed to a nickel a day — and then multiply that amount by the number of school districts participating in the school nutrition program. As you examine your own skills and determine training needed, you may realize that you also need to apply for a grant or scholarship, or participate in training offered through the SNF.  Your nickel a day could pay big dividends.

After we received her email, we spoke with Dr. Martin by telephone and she expanded on her remarks:

I’m really excited to have the opportunity to say thank you to the School Nutrition Foundation for providing me with a scholarship that enabled me to take advantage of educational opportunities I might not otherwise have had. I think that this is the perfect time to bring attention to fundraising for SNF, as the USDA will be requiring—under the HHFKA—to establish standards for all levels of personnel (state agencies, local school districts and schools) for training and certification. If ever we needed to raise funds to make training available, the time is now!

A friend of mine shared something with me not long ago; when she became a member of [SNA], her director told that she had a responsibility to be active in the association and to provide service. That’s how I feel about the fundraising for the [School Nutrition] Foundation; it’s payback for the opportunities that we have had to take training through the Foundation and the Association.

[Fundraising] is a commitment that an individual member needs to make to the Foundation. If [members] are going to be able to take advantage of training, to upgrade their skills and meet the new requirements, someone is going to have to pay for that training and the development of training materials. Imagine the difference if all 55,000 [SNA] members contributed just a nickel a day.

I appreciate what Sandi had to say about being the [Dr. Josephine Martin] Fellow winner. One of the reasons the award was established was to create an environment where local SN personnel would have the chance to come to Washington, D.C., to gain the excitement and the understanding and the knowledge that they, too, are an important part of keeping the Foundation and the Association moving. Being [at LAC] gives insights that people have never had before. Some people might think all of these state and federal regulations are made independently, by lawmakers, but once you attend LAC and understand the importance of their opinion and experience—and once they express these directly to members of Congress, that their view is totally different. I’m excited about the Martin Fellow Award because it attracts new people, offering them a chance to make a contribution.

For a long time we were just perceived as ‘little old cooks in the kitchen’; people thought “anyone can do that”. But now, the entire art of food preparation has become popular on TV and in the media, and being a cook is an admirable position to hold. I think the Foundation helps to promote the visibility of trained and certified people who are concerned with the mission of the Association, which is to provide children with healthy meals and to help them develop healthy food habits in their lifetime.

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