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 Rodney Taylor, Director of Food and Nutrition Services , Fairfax County Public Schools. Rodney received the 2019 Silver Plate Award in the Elementary & Secondary Schools category, nominated by Ecolab.
What do you enjoy most about your career in foodservice?
I have worked my entire adult life (46 years) working in the foodservice industry. What I enjoy most is having the opportunity to have spent the past 30 years working as a director of food and nutrition services in the K-12 sector. It was in school foodservice that I found my passion and purpose. There is no nobler profession than to serve children.
Tell us about your biggest career accomplishment.
Wow! I don’t know that I could site one accomplishment over another. As a matter of fact I feel my greatest accomplishment was to work 30 years in such a tough foodservice sector. I have had the opportunity to create and innovate in bureaucratic organizations that are traditionally resistant to change. In each district I had the privilege to work in, I had the honor of leading teams of professionals who were committed to providing our students and staff with a meal service program they could be proud of.
How is your segment making a difference for the foodservice industry?
The K-12 sector has/is experiencing a transformation from what has been largely a heat and serve operation that just wasn’t satisfying our customer base. From the introduction of farm-to-school salad bars which created an untapped market for farmers, daily outdoor Bar-B-Que, breakfast-in-the-classroom programs, super (super-snack) meals in the evening, summer feeding programs, and many other innovations from nutrition programs across the country, we are experiencing a greater demand for more healthful food demand.
What advice do you have for someone new to the foodservice industry?
I give them the same advice I would give anyone working in any industry or profession. Give 100% to you job and the industry, work smart and seek to continuously grow, don’t settle for being ordinary, let your efforts stand-out rather than to simply fit in.
What does being an IFMA Silver Plate recipient mean to you?
The IFMA Silver Plate Award is an acknowledgment of the work of 1,350 food service employees in the Fairfax County Public Schools who answered the call of the students, staff, and community to offer a nutrition program we could all be proud of, that would serve as an example to those wishing to bring similar innovations to their school district.