Proudest career accomplishment in the past year:
Last year, we did not have school on St. Patrick’s Day. I went online and saw so many school nutrition professionals doing incredible things for the holiday. I was totally inspired by their creativity, so I decided to go all out to celebrate opening day at Fenway Park. We decorated and had themed menus. I wanted to do Cracker Jack, but we are a peanut-free school, so I created and standardized a school nutrition recipe for the ballpark favorite using roasted chickpeas. It was so good! I shared it with others, and it was featured on many menus throughout the country—I even saw my recipe on a lunch tray in Indiana (I think) a week before our opening day.
Additionally, I procured, implemented and maintained vending services in our middle and high schools, starting with three machines. These machines accept cash payments but also link with our point-of-sale system so students can access account funds outside of normal serving times. Fiscal year 2018 came in at over $125,000 in vending sales.
Most rewarding moment so far:
When I have staff evaluations, I always ask what their plan is for professional growth. At my last job, our middle school cashier told me she wanted to be a director, and over the next two years, we worked together to grow her skill set, education and confidence. She was hired immediately when I transferred to Londonderry. I will never forget where we were when she told me that I changed her life. She is an amazing person, and I am so lucky to have been a part of her leadership journey.
One thing you’d change about the industry:
The administrative paperwork! It is so incredibly difficult to run a restaurant within the confines of government regulations. Also, there is a huge burden (especially on smaller districts with limited staff) to fulfill all of the requirements for the state’s administrative review. It’s a daunting task.
Most valued trait in a workplace:
My people. I am blessed with staff who truly care about feeding children. I constantly remind them, “Yours could be the only smile he or she gets today.” I am so proud of their commitment.