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Spencer TaylorDuring a phone call just after being hired, Spencer Taylor had to cut off his new boss.

“I’m sorry to cut this short, but I have to go. Our schools are serving tilapia today, and I don’t want it to be overcooked.”

This isn’t your average school lunch chief.

The newly named Director of Nutrition Services was still working at Birmingham City Schools at the time, and had a job to do: serve healthy fish to school kids – and make it taste good.

Now that he’s in Nashville, Taylor is ready to feed tens of thousands of students at more than 140 schools. He certainly has the credentials. He is a registered and licensed dietician who has worked everywhere from restaurants to medical facilities to the U.S. Army Reserves.

“I’m an active person with a strong interest in health and wellness,” he says. “I want to serve our students tasty meals with high nutritional value.”

So what does he like? What kind of food person is he? Here are five facts about Spencer Taylor:

  1. Favorite Foods: Crisp apples, peanut butter, and dark chocolate

  2. Favorite Food to Cook: Whole wheat pancakes for my children

  3. Favorite TV Chef/Food Show: Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri

  4. Foods You Want to See on Metro Schools Menus: Fresh green salads daily and more seafood

  5. Hardest Part of Cooking 12 Million Meals a Year: Consistency from school to school, varied customer tastes, and finding the best recipes


Nutrition Services - Healthy meals at every school, every day. Twenty Metro Nashville Public Schools have received USDA’s Healthier US Schools Challenge Awards (HUSSC). The Healthier US School Challenge (HUSSC) is a voluntary certification initiative established in 2004 to recognize those schools participating in the National School Lunch Program that have created healthier school environments through promotion of nutrition and physical activity.

“This is a great recognition of all the work we have been doing in the schools and with the community to offer students appealing, healthy meals,” said Fred Carr, Metro Schools’ Chief Operating Officer, who oversees the district’s Nutrition Services Department.

The schools and awards are:

  • Amqui Elementary School (Bronze)

  • Bellshire Elementary School (Bronze)

  • Caldwell Enhanced Option (Bronze)

  • Croft Middle School (Bronze)

  • Cumberland Elementary School (Bronze)

  • East Middle School (Bronze)

  • Glengarry Elementary School (Bronze)

  • Glenn Enhanced Option (Bronze)

  • Hattie Cotton Elementary School (Bronze)

  • Haynes Middle School (Bronze)

  • Head Middle Magnet (Bronze)

  • Hickman Elementary School (Bronze)

  • J.T. Moore Middle School (Bronze)

  • Jones Paideia Magnet (Bronze)

  • LEAD Academy Upper (Bronze)

  • Lockeland Elementary (Bronze)

  • Neely’s Bend Elementary School (Bronze)

  • Oliver Middle School (Bronze)

  • Robert E. Lillard Design Center (Bronze)

  • Shayne Elementary School (Bronze)

  • Thomas Edison Elementary School (Bronze)

  • Warner Enhanced Option (Bronze)

Metro Schools’ Nutrition Services department has made significant changes to incorporate healthier food choices for all students and is part of Alignment Nashville’s Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Committee working to not only provide nutritious food options, but also to provide appealing choices to students. To date:

  • The district continues to explore ways to reduce processed food items. Metro Schools has been ahead of the curve in providing healthy food choices as the budget allows.

  • Several school cafés offer salad bars; all offer a vegetarian choice daily.

  • Metro Schools’ nutrition staff works with local farmers to increase the amount of locally grown fruits and vegetables.

This year, school lunches will meet additional standards requiring:

  • Age-appropriate calorie limits

  • Larger servings of vegetables and fruits

  • A wider variety of vegetables, including dark green and red/orange vegetables and legumes

  • Fat-free or 1% milk (flavored milk must be fat-free)

  • More whole grains

  • Less sodium

In February 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama introduced Let’s Move!, incorporating the Healthier US School Challenge into her campaign to raise a healthier generation of kids. At that time, monetary awards became available for each HUSSC award level: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Gold Award of Distinction. To date, HUSSC awards have been given to 3,717 schools in 48 states. The Bronze award includes $500 for each school’s meal program.


The first day of school, Aug. 1, is fast approaching and Metro Schools’ Nutrition Services Department is hard at work preparing for next year. One of its tasks this summer is spreading the word about important changes in USDA rules that will affect all Metro Schools’ students who participate in the Meal Benefits (free/reduced lunch and breakfast) program.

Starting this year, students who are on the Meal Benefits program must take certain items for the meal to qualify as a free or reduced meal. A lunch meal consist of one meat/meat alternate, one serving of vegetables, one serving of fruit, one serving of grain and milk. A breakfast meal consists of one fruit, one grain and milk. If a student does not take all required items, the student will be charged at the à la carte rate for the meal. Café employees will encourage students to take all the required items; however, families should also make sure their children are aware of this change to prevent from incurring charges.

School meals are a great value and a huge convenience for busy families! Children need healthy meals to learn. Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools offers healthy meals at every school every day. Breakfast costs $1.25 for elementary, middle and high schools and lunch costs $2.25 for elementary and $2.50 for middle and high schools. Your children may qualify for free meals or for reduced price meals which cost $ .30 for breakfast and $ .40 for lunch. A lunch meal consist of 1 meat/meat alternate, 1 serving of vegetables, 1 serving of fruit, 1 serving of grain and milk. A breakfast meal consists of 1 fruit, 1 grain, and milk.

More information for the new year is available in our Back to School Guide.


Hunters Lane High School has won a $1,000 grant from a major restaurant chain to feed those who need it most. The grant from Darden Restaurants, Inc. allows the school to provide food on the weekends to students who do not have access to consistent food sources outside of school. The money comes from the inaugural Restaurant Community Grant Program from Darden Foundation.

Hunters Lane is one out of 900 schools taking part in the program. It is a $1.7 million local grants program intended to help support nonprofit organizations in the hundreds of communities where Darden has restaurants. Those include Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52. Nonprofits receiving grants support one of Darden’s three key focus areas: access to postsecondary education, preservation of natural resources, and hunger.

Thanks, Darden for helping our students!

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