20 Most Influential: Tony Geraci, Memphis Public Schools

Tony Geraci isn't afraid to ruffle some feathers to get things in school nutrition done right.

Photo by John Dean

Tony Geraci
Executive Director of Nutrition Services,
Memphis City Public Schools,
Memphis, Tenn.

“I was never very good at following the rules,” Tony Geraci once admitted. However, that rule-breaking, whatever-it-takes attitude is exactly what has enabled him to make waves in child nutrition.

Take his time in Baltimore City Schools, when Geraci turned an abandoned 33-acre lot into the Great Kids Farm, a learning laboratory for students to experience the produce life cycle firsthand. The project had little funding from the district, so Geraci turned to the community and invited them to lift a hand—literally—in the farm’s creation.

Never afraid to ruffle feathers, Geraci has publicly challenged the people around him to step up to the plate to better the lives of the children he’s serving. And when he feels they aren’t living up to their end of the bargain, Geraci isn’t afraid to call people out. Geraci is the kind of man who isn’t concerned about himself. In a time when job security is often priority No. 1, Geraci left Baltimore because he felt he could no longer make the changes he wanted to make. After a year of consulting for other districts in the “Word According to Tony,” Geraci has landed at Memphis schools, whose foodservice department was tarnished by an audit scandal in 2007.

Geraci has made quick work of his time in Memphis. He’s created another farm-to-school program, started an after-school supper program to feed hungry students, expanded the breakfast program and used the department’s huge central kitchen to return to scratch cooking.


Foodservice Director has undertaken a bold initiative by identifying people who we believe are having the biggest impact on non-commercial foodservice. Our list may surprise you and should certainly intrigue you. Our honorees have backgrounds as varied as their personalities. They range from the father of the modern-day food truck to the wife of a sitting president. They include operators and suppliers, chefs and consultants, CEOs and civil servants. There are traditionalists and there are mavericks. Well-known names share space with hot newcomers. In all, 17 people, two groups of individuals and one institution compose the list. It’s time to meet FSD’s 20 Most Influential.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Italian food hall chain Eataly is making plans for a 2018 initial public offering in its home country, according to a report this week in Financial Times.

The company plans to list shares on the Italian stock exchange in Milan “as early as next year,” Eataly Executive Chairman Andrea Guerra told Financial Times .

Eataly is eager to expand the presence of its massive Italian food emporiums in the U.S., which have helped spur the growing food hall trend . The company has five locations here, with two in New York City and one each in Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston. Financial...

Industry News & Opinion

Students staffing the foodservice department at Rutgers University will soon get an hourly pay bump, as the New Brunswick, N.J., university is raising its wage for student workers to $11 an hour, philly.com reports.

The increase will go in effect Jan. 1 and will impact 13,000 students.

The fight to raise wages at the school was spearheaded by student group United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), which is continuing to push the university to increase student wages to $15.

The fight for a $15 wage for student workers has spread at schools throughout the country,...

Industry News & Opinion

After shutting down 265 schools due to ongoing wildfires, the Los Angeles Unified School District kept three schools open on Friday and Saturday to provide meals for students and their families, the Los Angeles Times reports.

At one of the schools, employees and volunteers handed out around 100 meals on Friday and 270 meals on Saturday. The meals included items such as dragonfruit punch, raisins, bananas, sunflower kernels, whole-grain cinnamon graham crackers, sunflower seed butter and fat-free chocolate milk.

Around 80% of students in the district come from low-income...

Sponsored Content
Breakfast chili

From Bush’s Best®.

While decadent plates of French toast and pancakes stacked high will always be breakfast favorites, it’s undeniable that savory breakfast items are on the rise in many foodservice operations. Menu items such as avocado toast and omelets aren’t new, of course, but consumers’ preferences for better-for-you food choices, along with their desire for global flavors, are driving this trend.

According to a recent Technomic Breakfast report, consumer demand for vegetarian ingredients has led to an increase of ingredients like soy, tofu, beans, lentils, seeds,...

FSD Resources