Multi-Tasking FSD Takes on Universal School Breakfast and More

Healthy Food Choices in Schools March 09, 2016 Print Friendly and PDF

breakfast with a hero

Doreen Simonds, Foodservice Director, Waterford Public Schools, Waterford, MI

Waterford Public Schools Foodservice Director Doreen Simonds is a multitasking machine. Although no one is quite sure how she does it, she manages to fit together all the ingredients that are the recipe for a thriving, successful, bang-up school-meals operation.

“I’ve been doing this job for 27 years,” explains Simonds. “I started as a typical lunch lady, then I became a manager, and now I’m the foodservice director.” Doreen has worked tirelessly in her district with one goal in mind: healthier students.  She has a passion and a knack for multitasking, which explains her continued success in creating a healthy school environment, which begins with healthier meals. 

This year Waterford is experimenting with universal free breakfast.  “Offering free breakfast to all students can be a challenge,” says Simonds. “You never know who will eat breakfast.  It’s a learning process.”  Last year, with help from Deb Grischke, and a grant from Michigan Action for Healthy Kids, Waterford piloted several different ways to increase breakfast participation.  “We tried new menu items, breakfast kiosks, express breakfasts, using iPads to speed up purchasing, a “Breakfast with a Hero” program, and breakfast outside of the cafeteria. We’re proud to say that last year, we offered breakfast in the classroom in all 10 of our elementary school buildings.  We serve about 4,200 breakfasts every day.”

the edible school yard But Simonds has been up to a lot more than just universal breakfast. Like most foodservice directors, she serves on several student health committees and has her hands in a lot of different pots, including her passion: The Waterford Edible School Yard. The primary goal of the Edible School Yard is to connect students to how food grows and pique their interest in learning about and trying new foods.  In the Edible School Yard, the team is growing and using in school meals many different kinds of food including snap peas, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and even kohlrabi.  Simonds says, “The kids like the snap peas and cucumbers best.” Doreen has received several school- and community-gardening grants.

On top of all of that, Doreen’s claim to fame and proudest moment came in 2011 when she was invited to a reception at the White House with Michelle Obama to celebrate Waterford’s bronze, silver and gold awards in the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC). Thirteen Waterford Schools have received a HUSSC award so far. This year, in addition to implementing the Smart Snacks standards and everything else Doreen is involved in, she’ll be applying for more HUSSC awards for her schools. There’s just no stopping Doreen.

This story is part of a School Breakfast Success Story Compendium by Michigan Team Nutrition. To read more success stories, click here! 


Contributors

Nicholas Drzal, RD, MPH, Michigan Department of Education

Chris Flood, MS; Nutrition Communications Consultant, Healthy Habits Today

Doreen Simonds, Foodservice Director, Waterford Public Schools, Waterford, MI


 

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.