Ever hear of the National Food Service Management Institute at Southern Miss? Unless you’re one of the constituents serviced by NFSMI, most likely not. The Institute is a real “sleeper.” Capably directed Dr. Mary Frances Nettles, it chugs along steadily, without fanfare, cranking out vitally important child nutrition-related projects focused primarily on schools and day care centers.
The Institute recently rejoined the College of Health following the dissolution of the “Centers and Institutes” structure within the office of the vice-provost for research. As a result, last week I attended a two-day meeting of the Institute’s national advisory council at Ole Miss. NSFSMI is joint venture of the University of Mississippi and Southern Miss, with a solid federal funding stream and a crisp division of labor. Ole Miss is responsible for training, and offers a voluminous catalog of on-site and on-line learning opportunities for food service line workers, managers, and other professionals. Southern Miss is the applied research side of the partnership, responsible for keeping the Institute on the cutting edge of knowledge in the institutional child nutrition field.
I came away with a new appreciation of the challenges faced by food service professionals, the tremendous work being done by the Institute, and the dedication of a stellar group of advisory council members from across the nation – not to mention the absolutely critical importance of school-based feeding programs in preventing hunger and malnutrition in literally millions of young Americans.
You may not have heard much to date about NFSMI; but I assure you that you will be hearing a good deal more of it in the future.