Food service employees honored outgoing director Jeanette Armstrong at their meeting Thursday.
After 23 years on the job, Jeanette Armstrong is clearing her plate.
The Lawrence school district food service director is starting a new business venture with her family and friends. She leaves a behind a legacy that spans three decades, countless meals and a staff of 132 food service employees.
``When I started we served one-plate lunches,'' Armstrong said. ``Everybody got the same thing, like it or not.''
Not anymore. Lawrence students get a choice of up to six entrees, a salad and sandwich bar, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
There have been other changes as well.
``The facilities have improved and we've done some major remodeling,'' she said. ``We've always tried to do as good of a program for the students as possible. You have to change. You can't remain static. The more choices you give children, the more likely they are to choose a complete meal and likely to eat a balanced meal.''
Armstrong was honored for her achievements and leadership abilities at the quarterly Sunflower School Food Service Assn. meeting held Thursday at the Lawrence Visitors Information Center.
She visited with employees and introduced her replacement, Paula Murrish.
Murrish started with the district Oct. 1 and will officially take over duties Nov. 2. Armstrong's last day with the district is Oct. 30.
``I'm looking forward to getting to know all of my staff,'' Murrish said. ``The staff can make or break programs, and they know what the students want.''
Murrish was the director of the Kearney, Neb., food service program prior to moving to Lawrence.
``This is a bigger district and a bigger challenge,'' she said. ``We did not have such a diverse selection. Lawrence is really advanced. We have more advanced computers, faxes and modems here, and that makes purchasing easier.''
Sonja Dunston, schools food service consultant for the State Department of Education in Nutrition Services, said that while Armstrong will be missed, she has confidence that Murrish will be able to take over the job without a hitch.
``She's already very knowledgeable of the program,'' Dunston said. ``She has a lot of well-trained employees, and that's one of the pluses of being here. I think she will continue with the well-known tradition of the program.''
-- JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.