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Howard leaving schools' lunch lines
4.01 Netha Howard 2
Netha Howard stopped to talk to and hug fellow school system employees who came to celebrate her retirement. - photo by Photo by Sandi Van Orden

For 30 years, Netha Howard has served as Effingham County school system’s food service coordinator.

Howard is retiring from her position, and she was honored last week for her service and dedication to the students.

She began working for the county after earning a degree in food nutrition.

“I graduated from college, and I was looking for something to do,” Howard said. “I wasn’t sure exactly what I was going to do whether going to a hospital setting or something in the school system. One of the teachers here she told me about it, and she said let me talk to Dr. (Michael) Moore.

“I like nutrition,” Howard said. “I like learning about food intake. With all the studies I had and coming here it has paid off. It’s been challenging. I’ve taken the ins and the outs and made a plus with them. The group here is a good group of girls, and they know what it takes to work hard, and get the job done.”

She said she has had fun working in Effingham.

“It’s been enjoyable,” Howard said. “There have been so many different women who have come and gone. I love them all, and I’d do whatever I can do for them.”

She said the program was wonderful, and it’s gone well. She said

some students don’t understand why French fries aren’t on the menu every day, but it is all part of following regulations, and reducing fat consumed.

“When I came here there were six small schools, and they have grown tremendously, and I feel they’re going to grow some more,” she said.

Howard said her challenge has been the lack of an extra person to work in the department.

“It’s always been just me — it’s been hard, but I’ve made it through,” Howard said. “I have no bad words to say. It’s been wonderful.

“It hasn’t been totally easy, but what I can say is it has been fun,” she said.

Barbara Louder, cafeteria manger at South Effingham High School, has known Howard for approximately 28 years.

“I met her working at Rincon Elementary School,” Louder said. “She always visited the schools, and she would come in and out all the time.”

Louder said Howard is a “wonderful lady” with whom she has enjoyed working.

“She’s willing to help. I’ve worked short a lot, and I would get on the phone and tell her I’m working short, and she would come over and help out—she’s just that kind of person,” Louder said.

Louder said there have been numerous occasions when she has helped Howard cater church functions and class reunions.

“I’ve enjoyed working with her, and I will miss her,” Louder said. “She’s going to be hard to replace. She’s a church going person, and she’s an honest person,” she said. “You could talk to her, and if you had problems she would listen to you. I think everyone’s going to miss her.”

Louder said she hopes Howard comes back to visit.

Howard said when it came to helping at the schools she did whatever she had to do.

“All the ladies learned how they do things,” she said. “It’s interesting for me to go out into the schools to monitor the kids that come through the line, to learn what they want, and how they like it.”

Howard said she enjoyed going to the school and just talking to the students.

She said the department works to teach students about the food pyramid and helps to make students conscious of what’s on it, and what types of foods they need.

“We’re looking after their health and their well-being,” she said.

Howard said it’s a challenge to work in an area that serves people food when the people being served want something other than what is being served.

“I’m glad I’ve made my 30 years, and I am going home. I’m going to try to get more rest, and get my health back in line, and we are going to travel,” Howard said.

She said she has had interesting times. Working with children she said there are times there is nothing to do but laugh.

“They’re good kids,” she said. “It’s been an enjoyable 30 years. It’s been interesting.”