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Chefs to Watch: K-12 chef-trainer at Clayton County (Ca.) Public Schools serves extra helpings of heart, soul and fun

Chef-Trainer James Jabbarr draws on his personal experience—growing up food insecure—to inform the way he serves one of Georgia’s biggest school districts.


The human aspect of foodservice can never be ignored. While Chef-trainer James Jabbarr has established a training program to find new leaders and maintain a growth mindset, there’s a lot more that goes into his career—his calling—of nourishing children who need it the most.

That nourishment comes in the form of great school lunches, obviously, but Jabbarr adds some special ingredients to truly make kids’ day: By putting on nutrition-themed magic shows, Marvel comic events and donning his Darth Vader costume, Jabbarr is adding fun to the menu, a vital ingredient for K-12 foodservice.

Jabbarr got into this field for a poignant reason: “I was a hungry kid,” he says. Taking culinary classes meant food was around. Now, he sees himself in some students who come through the lunch line. Check out our interview to see how Jabbarr turned his challenges into triumph, making a difference for kids just like him. He talks about what the school year has been like so far, as the district goes back to in-person class and cafeterias, and also the fun stuff he hopes to do as the school year goes on.

TAGS: K-12 Schools
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