#MNPSVoices: Kenetra Harris, Nutrition Manager
Kenetra Harris has been with Metro Schools since 2005 starting as a part time general nutrition assistant and working her way up to her current role as school nutrition manager for three Metro Schools—a job that she says provides a different task and schedule every day and allows her to interact with her important customers – students.
From her own experiences, Harris is better able to manage her staff with know-how and understanding. She is the go-to person when a co-worker needs advice or counsel because of her empathetic approach. Harris exhibits empathy for others daily, and particularly when she learns about students who may be experiencing difficult home situations or need food. The desire to help students is the motivation for Harris and her staff to spring into action every day to ensure every child is fed.
“We get to know them [students] well,” Harris said. “They will tell us things they wouldn’t necessarily tell their teachers about their needs.”
Because of her care and kindness, Harris is often the recipient of birthday party invites, funny stories, and clever elementary-aged observations—anecdotes she says have always been her favorite part of the job. While she is no longer the official café cashier, she enjoys the opportunity to catch-up with her elementary friends by occasionally taking a shift at the cashier counter.
Harris not only takes the time to listen, she works hard to keep her students safe. As a nutrition professional, and the mother of a child with a peanut allergy, she knows how important it is to keep close track of food allergies and diet restrictions.
“I want parents to be comfortable trusting us with their children,” she said. “We make sure every child receives good nutrition and eats something no matter what their dietary restrictions. We offer something for every child.”
Harris and other Metro Schools Café employees maintain notes about each child’s dietary needs. She knows specific student allergies as well as which children are vegetarian or vegan. For children with those dietary needs, she makes sure they do not feel left out and some days will make them special boxed lunches varying their options.
Harris shows her love by making her cafés a safe, happy and welcoming space for students. For Valentine’s Day, the Eakin, Waverly Belmont and Harris Hillman cafeterias are expected to reflect the colors of pink and red to coincide with the theme of the holiday.
“My favorite part of this job is just being able to see the kids and to know they are being fed,” Harris said.