CDM of the Month

Marian R Mitchell

Name: Marian R Mitchell, CDM, CFPP

Job Title: Kitchen Manager (second job-Admin Assistant)

Employer: Mountain Home School District (second job-Chartwells K12)

Job Location: Mountain Home, Idaho

Years at Current Facility: 8 3/4 yrs (second job - 1 1/2 yrs and 4 1/2 with previous contract company)

Years in Current Position: 8 3/4 yrs

CDM Since: 2009

Why did you decide to become a CDM?

I had always been interested in nutrition and couldn't pursue that interest when I was married (you open a box and that was "nutrition" as my ex said).  I saw an ad in the newspaper from a college in a neighboring city for an online CDM course that specifically mentioned nutrition and many other aspects that I thought might be valuable to me.  It was a relatively new course offered online and had so much to offer.  I learned tons from this course and from others that posted comments along with the precept's help.  I was able to get a pay raise for my completion of the course and was able to give my boss (who was the Food Service Director) many ideas to help and improve areas that I saw were not being met.  As a second job, I became an Admin Assistant in the foodservice office where I could communicate ideas with the Food Service Director (he knew that he needed to take the course too but just never pursued it).  There are many areas that don't totally relate to medical settings with the CDM, but we still have to deal with allergy issues and diet modification for those student’s needs.

What are your main responsibilities in your current position?

I have to decide how much food to prepare from the menu that day so that all students will get their choice (and adults that eat too) with as little waste as possible (keeping food costs down), make sure that all production logs are accurately filled out, run the POS station and make sure that each student has the right components on their tray for state reimbursement funds, and make sure that any diet restrictions for students are carried out properly. At Chartwells K12, I input meal counts into the computer along with invoices, as well as keep track and organize the paperwork that we have in the Food Service Office.

What is an example of an innovative way you have made change at your facility and how did you implement it?

It may not be innovative, but needed in that we didn’t have an eyewash station in the kitchen.  If we would have needed one, I would have to find the building custodian and get him to unlock the maintenance closet where the eyewash station was located.  This timeframe was unacceptable to me and I was able to convince the principal of the school at the time to purchase one for the kitchen and get it installed.

Also we had no instructions on how to clean the meat slicer in the kitchen.  I got online and found them for the kind of slicer that we had.  Then I came to find out that many of the operating instructions for equipment in the kitchen was missing from the facility so I got online and got them.  I found out that my cook 2 learned a better way to clean the dish machine at the end of the day that helped her save time.

What was your first job in the foodservice industry?

A food and beverage hostess at Walt Disney World in Florida.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your position and how do you handle them?

The need for proper safety and sanitation in the kitchen.  The statement, “I don’t do that at home!” just drives me crazy.  But totally explaining the “Why” of why we do things in the kitchen a certain way has helped immensely and not a “because I said so” type attitude. It’s communication to where another person “gets it” and understands what you are sharing with them without any negativity in the work place.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Interacting with the students as they come thru POS station.  I love seeing their happy faces each day!

How do you stay up to date with current innovations and trends?

Chartwells K12 has some excellent Safety and Sanitation information that is given to us each month for our review.

How do you envision the food service industry in the next few years and foodservice?

With more and more dietary restrictions that students are facing these days, we have to be knowledgeable and vigilant in our efforts to provide food for our students with those restrictions so that they can eat with their fellow students and not feel “isolated” when they eat meals at school.

What is your advice to those just getting started in the food service industry?

Foodservice is a demanding industry, but can also be a fun job.  There are so many different kinds of foods out there in our world that can be prepared and combined in more ways than we can count.