Juanita Hines

Managing Food for 90 Schools

kitcloseupmay09 Juanita (“Kit”) Hines, Menominee, RD, LD, directs the operation of food services for 90 schools in the Tulsa Public School System. “I have a kitchen manager at ever site,” says Hines. “Seven management team people, who each have 14 or 15 schools, report directly to me. We also have resources that you wouldn’t find in smaller school districts, such as someone who does IT [information technology], someone who does menu planning and someone who does nutrition education. We do about 17,000 breakfasts and about 25,000 lunches each day for kids who are in elementary school, middle school and high school.”

Hines followed in the footsteps of her mother, who was a dietitian. Hines was drawn to the field because she knew there were many things she could do with a bachelor’s degree in dietetics. After completing her degree in community medical dietetics in the coordinated undergraduate program at Viterbo College in her home state of Wisconsin, she took a clinic dietitian position at West Jefferson Hospital in Marrero, Louisiana.

In 1985 Hines joined Sodexo – a worldwide company that contracts for food and facilities management services in 80 countries. Hines has been working in the United States with Sodexo since that time.

Following five years of direct patient care, Hines served as a patient food-service manager and manager of other dietitians for several years. By this point she was eager to work in food services, so she took a position as general manager at Duncan Regional Hospital in Duncan, Oklahoma. Hines enjoyed food services, but she had started a family and was finding hospital hours difficult. Her next position, as general manager with the Duncan Public Schools and Comanche Public Schools, was much more compatible with being a mother. “Working with schools was perfect for me,” says Hines. “I didn’t (and still don’t) have to work evening and weekends. I’m only responsible for breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snacks.” After three years in this position, Himes took her current position.

What does Hines like about working for a company? “I’ve enjoyed the flexibility and the ability to expose myself to many opportunities without having to leave an employer. In the earlier part of my career, I moved about every two and one-half years. Now our family is settled in Tulsa, but, if I want, I still have other opportunities within Sodexo.”

Hines recommends that if students are interested in a career in dietetics, they should take classes in cooking, nutrition and management. They should also try to get involved with institutional cooking.
cover_lg This article was originally published in the Summer, 2009 issue of Winds of Change. (The cover artist is William Rabbit, Cherokee.)