Kate Zebert, the South Sioux City School District's new food services director, stands in the high school cafeteria.
Kate Zebert, the South Sioux City School District's new food services director, stands in the high school cafeteria.

Whether it's for students or for the elderly, Kate Zebert has been working in food services for most of her life.

She officially began as South Sioux City's newest food services director on Feb. 1. Prior to that, she worked for the Ames, Iowa, Community Schools; Wheeling, Illinois, Consolidated Schools and the Chicago Public Schools.

“I've always enjoyed food,” Zebert said. “Food is about family and making memories so I enjoy working with it. I just enjoy doing things for other people.”

Zebert also spent 30 years working in healthcare food services designing menus for the elderly. She noted that the elderly and students are both quite picky when it comes to what they eat, although students are a little more adventurous.

“I think it's because of things like the Food Network,” she said.

Zebert started cooking at age four and, obviously, she hasn't stopped.

For the remainder of this school year, Zebert said she is mostly just going to learn about the district and the tastes of the students before she implements any changes to the menu.

“Ultimately, I want to put more items on the menu that the kids would really like to have,” she said.

Every now and then, Zebert has a few students taste test items she would like to see on the menu someday.

“I reach out to the kids and see what they like and don't like,” she said. “I call it 'running it up the flagpole.'”

Zebert's biggest goal is to teach students the basics of what makes a meal healthy.

“My hope always is that the students will learn what a healthy diet is and have the tools to make educated decisions regarding their food.”