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Grow Education “Faces of Food” in New Bedford: Donna Trahan and Mary Zilg Reinhard

Meet Donna Trahan and Mary Zilg Reinhard, New Bedford Public Schools Food & Nutrition Services

Donna Trahan and Mary Zilg Reinhard have both worked in the food service department at Jacob’s Elementary School for 2 years. Before coming to Jacob’s, Donna worked as a medical assistant for over 30 years and Mary worked as an early education teacher and school bus driver. They both have a love for children and seeing them thrive.

Where do you find inspiration?

Mary – I find inspiration in God and my sons. They give me what I need to get things done, to get up in the morning when I need motivation.

What’s your favorite way to spend a day off?

Mary – I mostly spend my day off with my son, whether we are playing board games, just being silly or watching TV. Being by myself on my days off is also nice since I’m usually working with a lot of people all week.

What energizes you and brings you excitement?

Donna- Things that energize/excite me the most is being with my 3 grandchildren (soon to be 4) and my boys and their spouses. I love to have them family over for meals or special events.

What are you grateful for this year?

Donna – I am grateful this year that my family has remained healthy through COVID, as well as being able to remain working as so many people have had the misfortune of losing their jobs and health insurance.

Mary – I am grateful for my family, my job, a place to live, food on my table, friends and mostly for God, he had never let me down.

What’s your favorite dish from your culture?

Donna – One of my favorite dishes growing up Portuguese is Kale Soup. I will make a big pot of it and freeze it so I have it throughout the cold weather.

Mary – I was raised Italian so I would have to say anything with pasta and cheese! MY favorites are lasagna, manicotti, spaghetti and meatballs and of course, pizza!

If you could grow an endless supply of something, what would it be?

Donna – I would definitely grow an unlimited supply of vegetables! I love the smell of tomatoes right off the vine as well as fresh cucumbers and green beans.

What do you wish you learned about food when you were in 3rd grade?

Donna – I do wish I had learned about the nutritional value of food while a 3rd grader. I don’t recall nutrition being a big part of school lunches in the 1970’s. 

Mary – A better food diet, to learn about what is good for you, what to stay away from more often and even portion sizes. 

What’s something you’ve learned about food that you found interesting or useful?

Donna – I’ve learned so many things about food while working for NBPS food service such as measuring different recipes correctly, food prep and proper handling of foods. 

Mary – Quite a few things!

  1. How important it is to look at nutrition labels
  2. That starches turn into sugars
  3. When you crave “junk food” your body is usually craving a certain vitamin or mineral – I’m still working on this lol! 
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