KCSD food services director wins OSU Extension award

Chris Dalla honored for his work with Oregon-grown food procurement, nutrition programs

Klamath County School District’s food services director has received the OSU Extension Service Cooperator Award for his work in procuring local foods for school cafeterias, promoting nutrition education, and helping to secure more than $200,000 in federal and state grants for Farm to School programs.


Above: OSU Extension’s Patty Case presents Chris Dalla, food services director for the Klamath County School District, with the OSU Extension Service Cooperator Award.

Chris Dalla, who has worked for the district since 2014, is responsible for overseeing the preparation and delivery of 1 million student meals each year. For the past five years, he has partnered with OSU Extension, helping staff understand the barriers and opportunities in school food service, said Patty Case, associate professor of family and community health at OSU Klamath Basin Research & Extension Center, who nominated Dalla for the award. The annual award honors individuals, organizations and businesses who have made significant contributions to OSU Extension programs.

“Although school food service has no educational mandate to teach students, he has welcomed the expertise of Extension staff to provide the educational link to the cafeteria,” she said. “He has collaborated with staff to create a shared ‘featured food’ calendar to promote healthy, Oregon-based foods and tastings in the cafeteria. He has supported special cafeteria events such as Feed a Farmer, in which local farmers visit students in the cafeteria on the day their products are served.”

OSU Extension’s Patty Case presents Chris Dalla, food services director for the Klamath County School District, with the OSU Extension Service Cooperator Award.

Dalla also facilitates distribution of educational materials to each cafeteria through his truck delivery system every month. At his annual staff trainings, he invites faculty to train his food service staff on OSU Extension initiatives such as Smarter Lunchroom principles, which provide strategies to improve consumption of healthy foods while decreasing waste; Farm to School efforts; and Food Hero.

“Chris has demonstrated that he is willing to put in the extra work required to procure Oregon-grown foods to support local growers and economies,” Case wrote in the nomination application. “Chris and his staff collaborated with OSU Extension to envision and implement three Farm to School grants and advocated for the placement of a new Food Corps position in Klamath County. Thanks to Chris, his team and our partnership, more students have access to, and knowledge of, healthy foods and how and where they’re grown in Oregon.”

Dalla’s work with the district tops a 45-year career in managing restaurants and school food service. In 1997, he received the Oregon Institute of Technology President’s Staff Award for outstanding service to the college.

 

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