Photo: Sodexo General Manager Donna Pease, Superintendent Bobby Pearce, and District Liaison Gina Ward
with Wakulla High students dining at the outdoor patio
Superintendent Bobby Pearce introduced changes in breakfast and lunch service to Wakulla’s public education students beginning in the fall of 2016. Sodexo, a worldwide “quality of life” organization is now managing Wakulla’s Food Services.
“With a worldwide knowledge base on food and nutrition as well as national and international buying power, Sodexo can offer a new variety and quality of food to our students,” says Superintendent Pearce. “It’s interesting that Florida State University just switched to Sodexo to manage their food services. With such a large institution close by, it opens up even more nutritional opportunities like grants and programs that Wakulla could not support alone.”
Mid-year indicators from student and parent surveys include positive comments and helpful suggestions that Sodexo’s onsite General Manager Donna Pease is taking to heart. “With any change there is transition time, but students seem to like the changes so far and there are many more we are looking at. Plus, Sodexo is happy to employ the Wakulla Food Services workers already in place.”
Wakulla High School and college graduate Gina Ward has been working with Wakulla Food Services since high school in the WHS on the job training program. She is now the District Liaison working side-by-side with Pease.
Pease has been in the food service industry since 1997, and is continually excited to explore Sodexo’s new programs. Some of them include using local “farm to table” food freshness; introducing new foods to students in interesting ways; and starting school gardens in the future.
Sodexo’s primary goal in schools is to give students appealing choices while still staying within the federal nutrition parameters. “We just started a ‘Grab and Go’ program for lunch at Wakulla Middle, Wakulla High, and coming soon to Riversprings Middle. We’ll expand to breakfast too. The concept speeds up wait time for older students who want something nutritional premade quickly,” says Pease.
Other improvements include sustaining two lunch lines at all the schools, plus having five lines at Wakulla High School. The outdoor patio line at WHS is always busy as students enjoy dining outside at picnic tables. In the works are centralized salad bars that will also offer new and interesting fruits and vegetables that students may never have had the chance to try.
All students at the following school sites are offered breakfast and lunch at no charge: Wakulla Education Center, Crawfordville Elementary, Medart Elementary, Riversink Elementary, Shadeville Elementary and Wakulla Institute. These school sites qualify for a federally funded initiative under the National School Lunch/School Breakfast Programs through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Wakulla Middle, Riversprings Middle, and Wakulla High still have free or reduced breakfasts and lunches for students who qualify.
“It’s been very positive to explore different avenues for using the taxpayers’ money wisely while still trying to improve quality of service, such as with switching to Sodexo,” states Superintendent Pearce. “We continue to work on other areas as well, such as conserving energy working with the Cenergistic Conservation Company. Right now we are assessing switching over to LED lighting in all our schools.”
“Saving money to use in the classrooms and improving quality in any area is a win-win for our children and parents,” notes Superintendent Pearce.