Lima City Schools Food Service Director Carrie Woodruff is the 2019 recipient of the Foodservice Achievement Management Excellence (FAME) Silver Special Achievement Award.
Woodruff will receive her award this weekend at the FAME award ceremony at the JW Marriott in Austin, Texas during the School Nutrition Association’s 2019 School Nutrition Industry Conference. The Silver Special Achievement Award is awarded to a director who demonstrates exceptional ability to recognize and solve problems unique to small districts.
“I was extremely surprised when I received the FAME Award phone call notifying me that I am the recipient of this very prestigious award. I was present at the FAME awards ceremony in 2016, and I never dreamed that I would be considered. I am honored and blessed to be recognized in this industry because there are many, many people who work tirelessly to promote Food Service. I absolutely love what I do – the people I work with, my networking friends and the students and community we serve. I am really grateful for my superintendent, Jill Ackerman’s, support and the opportunities the Lima City School District has given me. ”
Woodruff’s success with the Lima City Schools is credited to her planning and perseverance in achieving her mission. Her planning, monitoring, and evaluating of all aspects of her program, as well as her staff training initiative are recognized by her Board as having a significant impact on the schools and the community.
SMI evaluations for nutrients in her meals have been nearly perfect three times, and the schools enjoy 83 percent lunch participation. Her leadership and management also saw breakfast participation leap from 19 percent to 87 percent as she added programs and introduced Breakfast in the Classroom, which is now in its twelfth year and emulated by surrounding school districts.
Additionally, Woodruff piloted one of the first USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Grant programs nationally, and in 2014, she spoke before Congress at the Community Eligibility Congressional Briefing. Building off the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables program, Woodruff led the school system to create gardens to produce vegetables and fruits for use in school meals.
When Woodruff joined Lima City Schools, the school food service program operated at a loss and was nearly $250,000 in debt. By reorganizing staffing, updating kitchens, implementing the Fresh Foods Fruits and Vegetables program, and using a meals per labor hour to evaluate staffing needs, Woodruff turned the food service program around, and it now operates with a healthy operating balance.
Successful partnerships also define Woodruff’s achievements in her role. She partnered recently with Love your Lunch Room to do cafeteria transformations in all nine of her buildings. They are now all called Spartan Cafe. This changed the atmosphere with the colors representing the school colors in the kitchen areas, serving area and dining room. The redesign also provides the opportunity for subdued nutritional messages. Each school was giving the opportunity to create their own tagline. Her favorite is at Lima Senior: Feeding Spartans: Past, Present and Future.
Over the years she has worked with her Ala Mater Bluffton University, as well as other long distant dietetic internships. She has mentored over 45 Dietetic Interns. In the past four years, she even hired one of those interns yearly to run her USDA Summer Feeding program and paid them. For the summer feeding program, the school system partners with outside agencies such as YMCA Kinder Kamp, Lima Parks Department, Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Programs (UMADAOP) of Ohio, Bradfield community Center, Headstart and the YMCA to provide lunches and even breakfast at some sites. In addition to other wellness-focused activities, Woodruff works with Activate Allen County Food and Lima Sprouts. These are local programs that promote Heatlhy Happenings in Lima. She is visible with her “Farm to School Intentions,” and works with local business to promote the district.
For 30 years the FAME Awards have been honoring school nutrition professionals who raise the industry standards by tackling challenges within their school districts and communities. The 2019 FAME Awards ceremony event is scheduled for January 13, 2019 at the JW Marriott Austin, Austin, Texas, site of the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) 2019 School Nutrition Industry Conference (SNIC).