Melissa Parmer, R.D.

Melissa Parmer, R.D., senior supervisor at the Gilbert (Ariz.) Public Schools, was responsible for the coordination of an $8 million annual budget, the day-to-day supervision of six dietetic interns and menu nutrient analysis at her former position at Par

Why Selected?

[Editor’s note: Parmer was nominated by Kathleen Glindmeier, director of nutrition and wellness at Paradise Valley Unified School District in Phoenix. After two years in the district as nutrition and wellness budget coordinator, Parmer moved to Gilbert in September.]

Glindmeier says: Melissa was responsible for the coordination of an $8 million annual budget, the day-to-day supervision of six dietetic interns and menu nutrient analysis. She was the youngest administrator of more than 100 principals, directors and supervisors. Her knowledge of technology made her an asset. Melissa represents the best of the next generation.

Details

Senior Supervisor, Gilbert Public Schools, Gilbert, AZ
Age: 27
Education: B.S. in dietetics from Arizona State University; working on an MBA from the Benedictine University in Chicago (online program)
Years at organization: 4

Get to know

Q. What has been your proudest accomplishment?

We had a big project at Gilbert to do nutritional and allergy analysis and get the analysis consistent with what was actually coming through the door. I made sure the products all matched and that all the nutrition and allergy information was on the website accessible to the parents. We are also going to start emailing that to the school nurses. That way parents know exactly what is coming in through the back door.

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

Technology. People my age can maneuver around computers much easier because we’ve grown up with it.

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

As a little girl you hear to treat others as you want to be treated and to stay grounded.

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

My age. I think there is a stereotype that I’m 27 and I’m in this generation that doesn’t care about anything and is on the cell phone all the time. It’s hard to make people stop and say I really do know what I’m talking about.

Q. What's been your most rewarding moment?

Graduating the internship and passing my R.D. exam because then I could start my career.

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

Finish my MBA. I’d like to help transition these schools into the new regulations that are coming down [from the USDA] because I think that is going to be hard for people to get their hands around.

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

When I was an intern in Paradise Valley I ran one of the high schools. I had to do the orders. I didn’t have an email address so one of the other kitchen managers said he would fax the order for me. He faxed the last week’s order so I double bought everything I had already bought the week before. One of the managers had 20 cases of pretzels and they weren’t on the menu for another month.

Under 30

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion
MeuDirections

One of my favorite cartoons shows a commander whose soldiers are in the midst of fighting a war with bows and arrows. Without turning around, he tells a man who has come up behind him, “I’m sorry, I’m too busy to talk to you.” The man was a rifle salesman.

In today’s time-pressed world, we are all too busy. So, it can be difficult to find time to reach out to others for ideas, solutions and best practices. But as that cartoon illustrates, it’s critical to being successful. The sharing of knowledge is a pillar of FoodService Director . Through our magazine and events, we have been...

Ideas and Innovation
chefs

We started inviting chefs and FSDs from other districts to come prepare lunch. Through featuring different chefs and chef-inspired meals, I’ve found the students have been looking forward to coming into the cafeteria. They are willing to try new things with crazy names, and to ask for their favorite outside items turned healthy.

Ideas and Innovation
tapas

I’ve created a high school “focus group” to see what future college students will want in terms of foodservice. This year, I called up two now-seniors from the last group to get 10 of their friends together. I also include a sophomore or two so that I always have a contact for next year. Tapas, grain bowls and late-night breakfast all originated from this group.

Ideas and Innovation
making meals

This summer, we teamed up with a church to deliver meals to three housing projects. We brought the meals to the church, and then the church recruited volunteers to deliver the meals to the children. We’ve been very impressed with this new model, and it shows great promise in getting meals to children who otherwise would not be able to leave their housing project.

FSD Resources