By Mark Ward Sr., PhD 2015-12-22 01:44:42
Celebrate the service and support of school nutrition heroes. Meet Coletta Hines-Newell Between her school district and nearby hometown, Coletta Hines-Newell, SNS, can see great affluence and great need. “All communities are different,” muses the director of Food Services for Arlington Heights (Ill.) School District #25. “And, yet, every community has people who struggle with having enough food on the table.” Hines-Newell was a longtime volunteer at a homeless shelter in Aurora, Ill. But by the time the recession hit in 2008, she knew that funds for social services were bound to be cut. Deciding to do something, she founded a tax-exempt charity named Many Hands Many Blessings to raise money for local food pantries. “I thought about all my own blessings, including a wonderful job that I love and where I’ve developed organizing skills that could be used to bless others,” Hines-Newell explains. “Many Hands Many Blessings is a way for me to take what I’ve been given and multiply it to help people in need. And because I raise funds not just in Aurora and Arlington Heights, but in many communities, I can spread the word about supporting local food pantries and shelters.” For her work with Many Hands Many Blessings, Hines-Newell was recognized during the 2015 Celebration of School Nutrition Heroes held last March in conjunction with the annual SNA Legislative Action Conference (LAC) in Washington, D.C. The 2016 event, once again put on by the School Nutrition Foundation, is slated for February 29. Now in its third year, the Celebration of School Nutrition Heroes has become the Foundation’s signature event. Answering the Call The fundraising concept behind Many Hands Many Blessings is simple yet inspired. “I buy women’s accessories at wholesale and organize spring and fall shows for up to 30 people at homes, schools and other locations,” Hines-Newell reports. “Then I sell the accessories at cost and ask people to donate whatever amount they want above the cost of an item. I don’t take a salary, so that every dollar raised goes to charity. The money stays in the community where the show was held to support its local food pantry or shelter.” Organizing and marketing comes naturally to Hines-Newell. Her father was a Pittsburgh-based food broker who often took his young daughter to weekend food shows and sales calls, including visits to school districts. Later, at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, she double-majored in nutrition and foodservice management, while minoring in business. After her 1980 graduation, Hines-Newell went on to manage a chain restaurant and coffee shop in Boston. Following a stint as a broker, Hines-Newell in 1989 landed a position in school foodservice operations at a high school district in Evanston, Ill. “I also joined SNA and quickly saw the possibilities in a school nutrition career,” Hines-Newell recounts. Within three years she was directing her own program at the Westmont (Ill.) School District. She was also elected to the board of the Illinois School Nutrition Association and served as its president in 1995-96. A year later, she co-founded the Northern Illinois Food Purchasing Cooperative, an enterprise that today boasts 77 school districts as members. The Next Step Never one to rest on her laurels, Hines-Newell in 1999 took on a new challenge when she was named to her current position. Yet, even with some 5,200 students to serve at nine sites, she felt that she could do more. “Over the years I’ve taken on the management of foodservices at three neighboring districts,” she states. Altogether, the four programs serve a total of 10,000 students at 20 sites. “It’s a good arrangement for everyone,” Hines-Newell reports. “Because we’re an affluent district, participation rates suffered after the new federal nutrition rules were implemented. But we support good nutrition, so managing four programs has helped everyone’s finances.” Challenges, likewise, confront Many Hands Many Blessings. “We always need younger volunteers—just as our profession needs more young leaders,” Hines-Newell relates. “School nutrition professionals have great expertise in organizing that can be put to great use in our communities. I hope more people enter the profession and catch a vision to get involved.” Coletta Hines-Newell, SNS Current Title: Director of Food Services City, State: Arlington Heights, Illinois Favorite School Lunch As a Kid: Rice and meat gravy Profession You’d Choose if not School Nutrition: Restaurant Management Someone You Admire: Mother Theresa Top of Your Bucket List: Visit all of the national parks Hobbies: Kayaking, reading, running my charity Meet Jim Clough If you ask Jim Clough, SNS, president of the Foodservice Division at AdvancePierre Foods (APF) in Cincinnati, school nutrition operators are the epitome of everyday heroes. “Just look at what a director has to do each day,” he explains. “Juggle labor costs, food costs, nutrition, flavor—all in an hour of prep time before a meal is served to hundreds of discriminating customers. It’s a staggering logistical feat, much like running your own business.” Clough’s company is the premier sponsor of the School Nutrition Foundation’s (SNF) 2016 Celebration of School Nutrition Heroes. “But though the event recognizes School Nutrition Heroes who’ve made special efforts to impact their communities,” he adds, “I’d say all school nutrition professionals are everyday heroes.” Feeling Inspired Clough’s admiration for school nutrition professionals dates back to his first SNA Annual National Conference (ANC). “At that point in my career,” Clough relates, “I’d been in the food industry for more than a decade and interacted with just about every market segment. But at that first SNA show, I was immediately impressed by the passion, dedication and culture of cooperation between school nutrition professionals.” Clough has striven to build a similar culture at APF since he took over its Foodservice Division in 2013. “Our corporate heritage traces back to 1946,” he states. “But APF itself was formed by a merger of many companies in 2010. Merging so many corporate cultures creates challenges in building a team.” Yet Clough was drawn to APF precisely because, he says, “I enjoy building teams. The key is a lot like what school nutrition directors do. You recruit people with positive attitudes and a bias toward action. You spell out the vision and values that govern your actions, and you emphasize a culture of collaboration—which is helped by measuring everything you do, so that you can promote accountability and can quickly correct your course.” The statement of values that Clough helped write at APF encompasses Passion for Food, Integrity, Helping One Another, Profitable Growth, Respect and Community. “The last value on the list is Community,” he says, “and being the premier sponsor of the Celebration of the School Nutrition Heroes is one way we can put that value into action.” Putting Into Practice Values and vision have a practical, everyday impact for Clough. “My job is to create and nurture a strategic plan to achieve our vision, which entails a dedication to providing great service and solutions,” he explains. Although his division sells to all markets, Clough has a special place in his heart for the K-12 market. In fact, in 2001, he took the time to earn his School Nutrition Specialist (SNS) credentials. “Some food manufacturers avoid the K-12 market because of the nutrition regulations,” Clough observes. “But schools are about 25% to 30% of our business. In earning my SNS credentials, I wanted to be a student of the profession. It’s energizing to be around such dedicated people. They typify something we all need to do, which is work for a purpose and not just for profits. Being part of the K-12 market is woven into the moral fabric of our company.” Service Through Support Clough is a first-generation American, born to parents who immigrated to Ohio from the United Kingdom. After earning a 1985 degree in industrial management from the University of Akron, he ended up in food sales. “But I have a sense of curiosity,” he notes, “and found myself drawn instead to marketing.” So he went back to school, earned a 1989 master’s degree in liberal arts from Baker University in Baldwin, Kan., and landed a marketing position with a national food company. Over the next two decades, Clough worked for several food manufacturers before moving to his current position at APF. “I’ve supported SNA and school nutrition at other companies,” he says, “and now I’m thrilled to continue that in new ways at APF, like being a sponsor of the Celebration of School Nutrition Heroes. The people we honor, along with the profession they represent, are personal heroes to me.” Jim Clough, SNS Current Title: President, Foodservice Division Company: AdvancePierre Foods Favorite School Lunch As a Kid: Pizza Profession You’d Choose if not Current One: History professor Someone You Admire: Colin Powell Top of Your Bucket List: (1) Go back to college; (2) teach history; (3) visit Italy Hobbies: Golf Mark Ward is a freelance writer in Victoria, Texas.
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