For the month of November, Cabinet Corner is focusing on Child Nutrition Services, a section under the Finance & Operations Division overseen by Cabinet member and Deputy Superintendent of Finance & Operations Bob Moore. Specifically, Child Nutrition Services is housed under Auxiliary Services, Maintenance & Facility Operations.
Over 98,500 lunch and breakfast meals are served each day to students in Oakland County. This alone is no easy task, but who is responsible for understanding the training and federal laws and regulations that are so integral to the success of these programs?
Meet Lori Adkins, child nutrition consultant with Oakland Schools. Adkins, with the help of Julie Hanna, her project/department assistant, takes on knowing the business side of Child Nutrition – which is no easy task. Read below to get some quick facts about the department’s (and Adkins’) main goals:
What Oakland Schools Child Nutrition Department does: Provides compliance support, professional development training and business support services for school districts in Oakland County for all federal child nutrition programs including: the national school lunch and breakfast programs, after school supper and snack programs, preschool feeding and summer feeding programs and for various grant programs.
What does this mean? Adkins ensures she is aware of all the changes/updates to laws/rules/procedures related to federal programs, which support safe and healthy schools. She also assists Oakland County districts toward becoming compliant with the constant updates made to these mandates. In fact, one of the newest mandates, Professional Standards, requires all school food service personnel to receive up to 12 hours of professional development training per year. Since the mandate took effect in 2015, Adkins hit the road running and hasn’t looked back. With approximately 1,250 child nutrition professionals in Oakland Schools alone, Adkins spends a great deal of her time providing this service to make sure county food service staff are up to date on the latest regulations including local wellness policies, meal pattern requirements, meal charge and debt policies as well as nutrition standards, just to name a few.
Visit https://oakland.k12.mi.us/district-school-operations/child-nutrition/Pages/Child-Nutrition.aspx to see more of what Child Nutrition Services is responsible for.
Organizations: Adkins is nationally renowned in the child nutrition world. She has been published dozens of times and is often sought after for her expertise in this field. She is a member of organizations, which work to make child nutrition a priority, such as:
- School Nutrition Association (state and national)
- Michigan School Business Officials
- Oakland County Food Policy Council
- Healthy Oakland Partnership
Lori currently serves on the School Nutrition Association (SNA) Board of Directors, which is a national association comprised of more than 58,000 child nutrition professionals. As an SNA board member, Adkins has presented at and facilitated discussions for numerous child nutrition conferences and meetings across the country. In addition, it’s her responsibility to read, study and prepare written comments to SNA for proposed rules posted in the Federal Register with respect to Child Nutrition programming. At the state level, Lori works on the Michigan Statewide Training Taskforce updating curriculum and teaching food service courses to professionals in Oakland County and across the state. At the local level, Lori partners with community organizations to offer expertise including the Healthy Oakland Partnership (HOP), the Oakland County Food Policy Council and currently participates in the Leadership Oakland Program.
Quotables: “I want to make sure we have the best programs in our county so I make it my business to know all I can.”
“I’m committed to being an expert in the field and I’m proud to work for Oakland Schools. Everyone here is so good at what they do – the bar is set high here and it’s great to be part of making a difference in kids’ lives.”
“My core belief is our kids and senior citizens are our nation’s most vulnerable populations. School meal programs help protect all kids because without good nutrition, students can’t learn.”
Past experience: Prior to coming to Oakland Schools in 2012, Adkins served as a school food service director for three different districts, most recently at West Bloomfield Schools where she worked for 15 years.
Personal: Enjoys cooking, reading, walking/yoga and recently became grandma to Gavin, “the light of my life.”
Sarah Davis is communication specialist with Oakland Schools Communications Services. You can reach her at email@example.com.