Keeping Rockale's students healthy (Dec. 5, 2009)
Rockdale County Public Schools Director of Food Services Peggy Lawrence was recently named Director of the Year by the Georgia School Nutrition Association.
Lawrence has worked for the Rockdale County Public Schools System food services division for 14 years and served as director for 11 years She said she was taken by surprise when her name was announced at the the annual GSNA conference banquet on Saturday in Athens.
"I couldn't believe it," said Lawrence. She said her bookkeeper knew and one other person with the camera was told right before the announcement.
Lawrence oversees a $9.2 million program that serves 2.4 million lunches, 1.1 million breakfasts, and 96,000 snacks a year. She pointed out the food program does not receive local tax funding but does receive federal funding and state funding.
During the awards presentation, GSNA Executive Director Susan Cheshire described Lawrence's accomplishments, including bringing the RCPS food program into financial shape, being a spokesperson for the School Nutrition Association southeast region, initiating community events such as having local leaders serve lunch during National School Lunch Week and inviting the community to submit recipes to serve for school lunches as part of the "Taste of Rockdale."
Cheshire said, "When she took over the Rockdale County program, it was in poor financial shape. But through constant monitoring and extensive manager training, it was quickly brought from red ink to black." She continued, "Peggy believes a well run program is true to its roots. And so when the norm became prepackaged food and cuts in labor, she continued to serve home made yeast rolls and cinnamon rolls. Is there anything that says 'we love school lunches' more than the smell of fresh yeast rolls?"
"I really love my job," Lawrence said on Monday. "Everyday I get up excited to come here. I mean, there's hard days, but I really enjoy my job."
Lawrence, a Minnesota native, grew up in the food industry with her family's two groceries and bakery. She received her Bachelor's degree at the University of Minnesota and, after moving to Georgia and working with Marriott Corporate Services and Gwinnett County Schools, her Master's in Education at University of Georgia.
A mother of two children who attend Lorraine Elementary, Lawrence said she and her children consume the school lunches daily. She is also a Cub Scout leader, Sunday school teacher, and has served as a youth leader at her church.
More information about the Rockdale County Public Schools Food and Nutrition Program, the foods and prices on the school menus and more can be found online at www.rockdale.k12.ga.us/C9/FoodServices/default.aspx.