We asked the Silver Plate Class of 2014 a few questions to get an inside look at what makes them the operator all-stars they are today. Find out what they had to say about passion for foodservice, career accomplishments and what it means to be part of a legendary group of operators.
Sandra Ford, Director, Food, Manatee County Schools
Ford received the 2014 Silver Plate Award in the Elementary and Secondary Schools category. She was nominated by Schwan's Food Service.
What do you enjoy most about your career in foodservice?
Making a difference for students - I enjoy being part of something bigger than just feeding students but being part of their education. I love the variety involved with the job - there is so many ongoing changes while running a $26 million dollar business within a school district. Some days are HR focused, some days are food focused and all daysare student focused.
Tell us about your biggest career accomplishment.
Serving as President of the School Nutrition Association without a doubt. There were stepping stones along the way to get to that point but that was the ultimate accomplishment. Each step along my career path gave me more confidence and more skills to be able to provide leadership to the SNA.
How is your segment making a difference for the foodservice industry?
We are changing the face of nutrition - what we do will change the way our culture eats. There is already a difference in how much fruits and vegetables the nation consumes. Focusing on good nutrition has helped the school staff with their wellness initiatives. Schools are big businesses and help to drive the manufacturing of healthy alternatives.
What advice do you have for someone new to the foodservice industry?
Buckle up - you are in for the ride of your life. Use everyone you meet for new ideas. There is no competition among schools in foodservice - we all share ideas openly so we can all be the best. Look at each conversation and conference as a place to learn best practices that you can apply to your own operation.
What does being an IFMA Silver Plate recipient mean to you?
Representing my segment is such an honor. School foodservice is like no other segment. It is humbling to know that I have been selected by my peers and peers in other industries for this honor. I represent every school foodservice employee across the nation. We are partners in the education of children and this award gives me the opportunity to share that message.