Get to know school nutrition director Lori Danella

See what’s in store for Danella’s district, which was named FSD’s January 2021 Foodservice Operation of the Month.
Emergency feeding program
Photographs courtesy of Lee's Summit R-7 School District

Nutrition Director Lori Danella has seen her team through a series of ups and downs since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold last spring. See what she has to say about her district, Lee's Summit R-7 in Lee's Summit, Mo., and how it's adapted.

Q: What is it that makes your operation excel?

My staff. They’re talented, they’re dedicated, they’re caring, they have a great attitude. This year has really shown that more than ever. Without them, we would have nothing.

Q: What’s your best advice for other operators?

You have to take care of yourself. You can’t be a good leader unless you’re in a good frame of mind, because you can’t hide it. Roll with the punches because you can't let a mistake or a shortage or something that just didn’t work cause the day to fall apart. You have to have plan A to Zand I think we’re on maybe R at this pointbut each time you change, you learn something. 

lori danella

Lori Danella

Q: What are your goals for the coming year?

We’ve been working behind the scenes to bring back the special and fun things: decorations, wing day, etc. How we can give them back the burger bars and baked potato stations in a safe way. They will have stations back—burger bars and baked potato, but different. Our students really look forward to these things.

Q: How has the pandemic changed your relationship with the families you serve?

Oh, we have so much more respect from families. I was really worried at the start because we had only shelf-stable items, and there’s only so much you can do. But parents have been very supportive, with many phone calls cheering us [on]. It has really tied us with the community even more.



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