Congratulations to FANS Culinary Specialist Lauren Couchois for being named the 2021 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award winner for the K-12 School Foodservice industry by the United Fresh Produce Association.
The program honors chefs and their companies for their creativity in highlighting fresh produce on their menus, introducing diners to new flavors, and presenting creative ways to enjoy fresh produce.
FANS Director Joe Urban said, "We are so very fortunate to have Lauren on our team. In her role as Culinary Specialist she helps oversee all aspects of our program, including our Farm to School initiatives. She continues to find new and creative ways for our program to interact with students and teachers. While she excels in so many areas in our program, it is evident that she takes the greatest pride in teaching students about eating healthy and incorporating as many fresh local fruits and vegetables into their diets."
“It’s always a privilege for us to recognize culinary stars who are creating Instagram-worthy dishes that thrill customers and lead to a renewed interest and excitement for fresh produce,” said Tom Stenzel, President & CEO, United Fresh Produce Association. “We consistently have a diverse representation of chefs and foodservice professionals throughout the industry who are demonstrating some of the most creative concepts.”
This year’s winners were selected from nominations submitted by produce companies and foodservice operations across North America. United Fresh coordinated a review of each nominee's incorporation of fresh produce into menu development, use of food safety protocols for proper produce storage and handling, leadership in produce-related community service and special events, and recognition by their company and industry peers.
Ms. Couchois became the Culinary Specialist with Greenville County Schools last year after serving as Foodservice Director in a Florida district. She is a registered dietitian and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Western Carolina University. She completed her dietetic internship at Indiana University Perdue University of Indianapolis and obtained her School Nutrition Specialist certification in 2016.
As part of the senior leadership team with FANS, Ms. Couchois assists with the oversight of all federally funded school nutrition programs, menu development, nutritional analysis, special dietary needs of students, and coordinating and conducting of training programs for district-wide staff development. She heads up the Farm to School program and works directly with students in classrooms to teach them about nutrition education and healthy lifestyles. She will also be overseeing the new facility at Roper Mountain Science Center, where she will be developing partnerships with the Special Education department, providing work based training and employment opportunities for Special Education students.