Jennifer McFarland, R.D.

McFarland's programs resulted in a 10% increase in participation across the district.

Why Selected?

Rose Smith, assistant director of food and nutrition services, says: The district had very low participation before Jennifer arrived. During her first year, with menu and production changes, the high school participation increased 22.5%, with an overall 10% districtwide increase. Jennifer also advocated for and received a $1.25 million renovation of a poorly designed high school kitchen and cafeteria. Production is now much more efficient and functional, making the working environment much better for employees. 

Details

Director of Food and Nutrition Services, Center Grove Community School Corp., Greenwood, Ind.
Age: 29
Education: B.S. in dietetics, nutrition, fitness and health from Purdue University
Years at organization: 4

Get to know

Q. What has been your proudest accomplishment?

My first year on the job we sold 185,000 more reimbursable meals. I think that was our highest achievement. We increased entrées at all levels. We added lines at the secondary schools and we added as much fresh produce as possible to the menu. 

Q. What would you say you excel at over more seasoned colleagues?

I’m not stuck in my ways. I jump at the opportunity to try something new or advance current practices. Our department is doing a technology pilot upgrade, and I think that’s because of our forward thinking and openness to change. 

Q. What's the best career advice you've been given?

Lead by example and love what you do.

Q. What's been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?

Completing a nine-week kitchen remodel of our high school. We had many challenges we had to face with budgeting and making it a more efficient kitchen with the same existing space. 

Q. What's been your most rewarding moment?

Increasing staff development and sending our managers to state and national conferences. Our employees have been so instrumental in recipe creation and finding new products, and including them in the decision-making process has made us a better team. 

Q. What would you like to accomplish in your career in the next two years?

I want to do more scratch cooking and continue to change the way students think about food. 

Q. What's been your funniest on-the-job disaster?

Pulling up to one of our middle schools to see 900 students evacuated and multiple fire trucks in the parking lot. We had a small fire in a pass-through warmer and it set off the building fire alarm. Luckily nobody was hurt. The fire extinguisher caused more damage than the fire. We managed to feed the last lunch of 300 students out of the teachers’ lounge. It ended up being a great practice fire drill for the district. 

Q. What can you look back at now and laugh at?

I was working 12-hour days my first few months on the job. I remember my boss coming to my office, turning off my light and escorting me to leave for the day. I felt like I had a million and one things to complete before my first staff meeting. Looking back I can laugh at the amount of pressure I put on myself in the beginning. 

Under 30

More From FoodService Director

Sponsored Content
WinCup foam food containers

From WinCup.

Cost control.

Two little words that are essential to every foodservice director’s day-to-day activities.

Keeping costs in check is paramount in running a functioning food operation, of course. But the ripples of cost control can extend beyond your bottom line. And savvy directors must balance customer satisfaction on the P&L sheet.

Fiscal Responsibility

The foundation of cost control is accepting fiscal responsibility, which requires a solid understanding of foodservice accounting. Prime cost, the combined cost of food and labor, is an...

Industry News & Opinion

Orange County Community College in upstate New York is replacing its dining staff with vending machines , The Times Herald-Record reports.

The staff members, who will be let go in June, include nine full-time and three part-time workers. Students say they will miss the employees and the access to fresh food.

The Orange County Community College Association, which oversees the school’s cafeterias, says the layoffs were partly due to a $150,000 deficit accumulated by foodservice operations last year.

Read the full story via The Times Herald-Record .

Industry News & Opinion

Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, is eliminating paper cups in its Commons dining hall and has given each student a reusable stainless steel mug as a replacement, bates.edu reports.

The mugs were distributed via a promotion earlier this week where students could fill their new mugs with a free smoothie. Stickers and other trinkets were set out for students to use to “bling” their mugs.

Dining services turned to students to determine which type of mug would be offered. The college also installed a mug-washing sink in the dining Commons earlier this year.

Read the...

Industry News & Opinion

Compass has partnered with Jose Andres ’ ThinkFoodGroup, allowing the chef and foodservice vendor to collaborate at such venues as stadiums and college campuses.

“With this partnership, we have the opportunity to tell stories and connect with people through food on an entirely new level,” Andres said in a release.

The three-year team-up comes shortly after Andres opened a ThinkFoodLab pop-up in Washington, D.C., which will serve as a recipe R&D space for his restaurant group.

ThinkFoodGroup was this year named a Power 20 multiconcept operator by Restaurant...

FSD Resources