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What drives the nation’s top foodservice operators? To celebrate IFMA's 65th annual Gold & Silver Plate Awards Celebration, we asked the 2019 Silver Plate Class to share what makes them the operator all-stars they are today. Find out what they have to say about their passion for foodservice, career accomplishments and what it means to be part of a legendary group of operators.

Meet Bill Marks, Director of Food, Nutrition and Environmental Services, Hennepin Healthcare. Bill received the 2019 Silver Plate Award in the Health Care category, nominated by Basic American Foods and Hormel Food Corporation.


What do you enjoy most about your career in foodservice?

The ability to have a positive impact on thousands of lives daily is exciting. We do this with our patients by providing a great meal and bringing a happy moment into their day as they are healing. Our clinical and non-clinical staff get the opportunity to escape the challenges of their hard work by experiencing creative and exciting retail venues.

Giving back to our community is very rewarding. With the 40 million people living in food-insecure households in the United States, we utilize our food expertise to impact those in our community through a food shelf, summer child meals, assisting a local food shelter, thanksgiving meals and teaching families how to prepare meals. 

Tell us about your biggest career accomplishment.

I am very proud of the team we have developed at Hennepin Healthcare. They are caring, customer service focused, creative and consistently looking to improve services to our patients and staff. The teams desire to seek out, develop and participate in community activities to assist those in need is perhaps one of the things I am proudest of. It is thrilling to think of the many team members we have mentored and promoted to opportunities of advancement within our department and to other departments within the medical center. 

How is your segment making a difference for the foodservice industry?

Healthcare foodservice has changed tremendously over the last 10 years. The industry is now succeeding in providing patients, staff and visitors with great tasting, great looking and creative meals that are nourishing. Many healthcare retail operations are at a level where they compete for customers along with local restaurants. The industry has a laser focus on understanding the diversity of our customers and providing them with multicultural food choices. 

What advice do you have for someone new to the foodservice industry?

Most importantly, you need to be a “Foodie” and love working with people. Both food and people are the core of the foodservice industry. Be prepared to wear many “hats” and be good at it; culinarian, human resource manager, financial manager, sanitarian and even an equipment/building maintenance person.

Surround yourself with energetic people who are foodies and skilled at developing teams. Partner with food manufactures and take advantage of their expertise as they are an excellent insight into developing food trends and a great resource for new ideas.

What does being an IFMA Silver Plate recipient mean to you?

It is an incredible honor for my team, Hennepin Healthcare and myself to be acknowledged for all the hard work we have done on food quality, presentation, customer service and food insecurity challenges. Considering the exceptional reputation and accomplishments of all the previous and current recipients, this award is the ultimate recognition.