The My K12 Resource team invites you to get to know Mike Thrasher, Director of Food Services for San Jon Municipal School in San Jon, New Mexico. Mike operates a department with very little staff and was able to get the support that he needed to successfully pass his review.
Meet the Director
1. Describe your role within your organization, and how long you have been in this role:
I am the foodservice director, and I have been in a foodservice role for 11-12 years. I am responsible for our school’s menus, menu planning and – actually, I do everything besides cook the food!
2. What drew you to working in this industry?
I initially believed that a role in foodservice would allow me to work fewer hours than I was working at the time. Was I in for a surprise! When I started in foodservice, we just had the Food Pyramid and that was all that we had to follow. The Food Pyramid didn’t address sodium content, your red and green foods, etc. But now, it takes more time to make sure we’re adhering to regulations.
3. What is the best part of your job?
The most challenging part? Being able to see the kids two to three times each week in the cafeteria is the best part. Most of our kids are happy with what we serve. There are some that are not, but you have that in anything that you do. If a student comes up and asks, “Can you fix more lasagna?”, we try to get it in the menu the following month. Interacting with the students is rewarding!
I’d say the most challenging part of job is probably preparing the food that the students will eat. Given our location here in New Mexico, we have students who prefer traditional Mexican food and then we have students who prefer steak and potatoes. We try to fix enchiladas, steak fingers, turkey, etc. – it depends, too, on what we get from commodities and what we can find at a cheaper price if we’re able.
Also, fruit and vegetable intake can be challenging, as there are certain things the students like and dislike. We stick to what the students like, so that they will eat it and not throw it away.
How My K12 Helped?
4. What specific challenge(s) were you experiencing prior to working with My K12 Resource?
I had an Administrative Review (AR) coming up and I needed help. I found My K12 Resource by searching online and I’m so glad I teamed up with them to help me get ahead of the game. The My K12 Resource team stepped in to manage the entire school breakfast portion of the AR review; I just didn’t have time in the day to do this myself. They helped me tremendously by telling me what I needed to do, what to change, what I had done right, etc.
I was then able to tackle the lunch portion of my AR review based on their direction and feedback on my school breakfast program. I am grateful for their support! And we passed the AR!
5. Describe your experience working with the My K12 Resource team:
I appreciated that the My K12 Resource team was always in touch with me. I would recommend them, yes, as they would help you a lot! Their team will help you get through your audit without any problems.
6. What improvements/results (data, numbers, percent, etc.) can you share about how you are operating now vs. prior to working with My K12 Resource? Whenever I sent information to the My K12 Resource team, they sent me back what they deemed would pass or not pass the AR. They told me what I needed to work on and what I needed to change. This saved me a lot of time. Have a member of your team send your information to the My K12 Resource team, it will greatly benefit you in your audits!
7. What change do you hope to see or are excited about in the field of child nutrition?
The cut back on the initial sodium requirements makes it easier for me to serve various foods in my cafeteria. It also makes it slightly easier to serve something that’s not 100% whole grain; some of the students like whole grain foods and some do not. There are just certain foods that we know the students won’t eat and therefore we won’t serve as it would just result in plate waste.
8. What is your favorite food in your school cafeteria?
The students love the lasagna and turkey, plus mashed potatoes and gravy. My personal favorite are the steak fingers!
District/School/Location: San Jon, New Mexico, serving breakfast and lunch
Number of Students: 1 school with 134 students, pre-K through 12th grade
Size of Team: Three total: Mike, plus one head cook and one assistant cook