Customer Spotlight: Stephanie Bruce, Palm Springs Unified School District (CA)

Stephanie Bruce, Nutrition Service Director at Palm Springs USD, is always on the go, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. She juggles a lot between her career and passion for travel. Sometimes the two even coincide! Get to know Stephanie in our latest Meals Plus Customer Spotlight and click here to read about other Meals Plus Customers across the country.

usda_menu_planning_softwareTD: How long have you been using Meals Plus?
SB: We are starting our second full school year with Meals Plus. We did a slow transition at the end of the 2013-14 school year instead of a “Go Live” at the beginning of the school year so that the staff would not be so overwhelmed with a new system at the most stressful time of the year.  We have one year and three months under our belt and feel like pros!

TD: What duties and responsibilities does your position entail?
SB: As the director for the department, I oversee the entire nutrition service operation. We have 170 employees, a 20,000 sq. ft. central kitchen facility, 27 K-12 sites, we offer NSLP, SBP, CACFP (Supper and Snack) and SFSP. We produce over 20,000 meals daily and transport food to the Coachella Valley for Summer Feeding, which is about an hour drive east of Palm Springs. We are a small corporation in as much as my role wears many hats; human resources, inventory control, procurement, chef, nutritionist, fire chief, guidance counselor, fiscal controller and motivator, to name a few.

TD: What aspects of your position do you enjoy the most?
SB: Making it all come together. There are so many cogs in the wheel of Child Nutrition and no matter what happens, we still serve breakfast at breakfast time and lunch at lunch time. It doesn’t matter if the electricity goes out or the water is shut off or the delivery didn’t show up or the regulations change, thus increasing your cost and decreasing your participation; you make it work. Every day is something new and is a challenge.  It takes a special person to work in this kind of environment and the people I am blessed to work with make every day a good day.

TD: What do you like to do in your free time?
SB: I spend a lot of my free time traveling. I enjoy experiencing new cultures and seeing what school lunch is like in other countries. Years ago, I traveled with a group and toured school lunch in Italy and England, and now when I travel to other countries I make contacts before I go and spend at least one day seeing how school meals are served. It has been such an inspiration and done so differently in the rest of the world. I have had school lunch in Germany, France, Hungary, and I am hoping next to tour school meals in Sweden, where it is provided for all students free of charge. I also enjoy amateur photography, cooking, of course, and hanging out with my schnauzer, Mikey.  I don’t sit still too often; there is always something to do and something new to experience.

TD: What is your favorite lunch when you were in school?
SB: Turkey and gravy with mashed potatoes. Back in those days, we had lunch tickets—yellow was a lunch ticket and orange was a milk ticket. My mom made my lunch for me until she went back to work when I was in the 4th grade. I used to go each morning and buy my orange milk ticket for $0.07. Crazy! I remember being so excited when mom went back to work because I was going to get hot lunch every day instead of once a week. I used to take my $0.50 to Mrs. Owen, our lunch lady at McKinley Elementary, to get my yellow lunch ticket and held on tight to it.

speed up school cafeteria lunchlines