Plymouth Schools Director of Food Services, Gloria Burnam, has qualified for certification with the National School Nutrition Association after completing classes in “Healthy Edge” She also completed course work for certification on “Serve Safe” from the National Restaurant Association.
Even after 16 years of feeding students, staff and often parents, Burnam still looks forward to going to work each day. She began at Menominee Elementary as a server and worked in a number of different positions before being named director in 2005. She is responsible for designing all of the menus, food purchasing, bid pricing and procurement of commodities.
She said her job is easier with the eight head cooks and a total of 50 staff. Burnam said, “We all get along very well.”
During the school year, the same menu items are offered at the four elementary schools in the Plymouth system, St. Michael’s, and Riverside Intermediate. The choices offered at Lincoln Junior High and Plymouth High School are also identical with the exception of ala carte’ items at PHS. The food service staff at Washington Elementary also prepares 70 meals each day during the school year for the Head Start program.
During the summer months, on-site meals are offered at PHS. Beginning next Tuesday, meals will also be available during the month of July at Riverside Intermediate and breakfast and lunch will be available at both sites.
Burnam said, “When Dan Tyree was hired as the Superintendent, we worked for two or three years on a Wellness Policy. She said the Plymouth policy and the one at Portage are the two strictest polices in the state. She said, “It took us some time to make some changes.” Now they incorporate healthier foods into the menus such as whole wheat buns, reduced fat cheese, and reduced sodium foods, according to Burnam.
Burnam believes the manner in which they present choices to student helps to keep waste down significantly. She said, “We use an “offer” verses “served” approach.” They offer five items and the student can choose all five, but have to choose at least three. Choices include an entrée, fruit, vegetable, grain food, and milk.
Assistant Superintendent Rodger Smith called Burnam an “outstanding” food service director. He said, “She does an excellent job in training staff and providing top quality meals at a very affordable cost.” Smith said, “Our Food Service runs in the “black” which not all food services in schools are able to do.” He said, “All of the capital improvements in that area since I have been at Plymouth have been paid for by Food Service dollars. They pay for everything in the department, with the exception of utilities.”