At Land O’Lakes, we understand the importance of having a group of dedicated culinary experts at your fingertips. Our team of seasoned chefs and bid season coordinators is an integral part of school districts nationwide and is always ready to provide in-depth industry knowledge while equipping key decision-makers with the proper tools and resources.
Our chefs, nutritionists and K-12 experts each have a diversified background with decades of experience in the industry, so you can confidently navigate bid season, product procurement, menu development and more. From culinary education masters and flavor-profile connoisseurs to registered dietitians, our team of passionate foodservice professionals is committed to making menu development easier every step of the way.
Q: What do you love about working in the K-12 space?
A: I can’t imagine doing anything else. I love K-12. The collaboration in the channel is so unique and different. There’s no negative competition. Everybody is looking to each other for advice. We have a whole team dedicated to K-12. R&D scientists, culinary staff, bid specialists, really a whole team of people to reach out to for help.
Q: How do you want K-12 operators to use you as a resource?
A: I hope they know they can look to us for recipes and menu planning. We can create recipes that fit within the USDA guidelines, thanks to our incredible Land O Lakes® products. There are a lot of government regulations, so it’s important to have a team of experts and nutritionists who can make sure they are being met.
Q: What’s an unexpected part of your job?
A: The creativity and collaboration that goes into our work. When you have limited tools or rigid regulations, it forces you to be creative. We try to get into the mindset of school operators and understand that they only have so much storage space. It’s important for them to know how one SKU or recipe can be as versatile as possible. I feel energized when we generate ideas and solutions for our K-12 operators
Q: Why did you pursue a career in the food industry?
A: I started dishwashing very early on and from there worked my way up through the restaurant. From prep cook to running the kitchen as head chef, I quickly fell in love with the restaurant community. I was eager to learn more and absorb everything I possibly could about the culinary space.
Q: Why are Land O Lakes® products so valuable for K-12 kitchens?
A: Having one product that can do multiple things is key in the K-12 space. There’s nothing that can compare to that.
Q: What does it take to make a nutritious meal for kids, and how do Land O Lakes® products fit in?
A: Land O’Lakes has been great at staying on top of the ever-changing nutrition guidelines in the K-12 space. I’m set up for success thanks to our dedicated team of nutritionists. It’s an exciting challenge to create a quality recipe that meets nutritional guidelines while also making something kids will want to eat.
Q: How do you hope to be a resource for K-12 operators?
A: Education. I offer a wide variety of classes to schools and our partners as both a culinary resource and a resource for general education. I want to be an extension of our partners’ culinary team. They can reach out to me directly, and I will be there to answer any questions.
Bid Season Coordinator, Alethia
Q: What is your favorite part of being a bid season coordinator?
A: I love it because it’s always evolving. School district procurement regulations and USDA requirements change every year. There’s always something new to learn, and I love the idea of supporting school districts by trying to make their jobs as easy and seamless as possible.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d want to share with K-12 operators putting together a bid?
A: My advice would be to keep it simple and avoid making the evaluation criteria too complex. Simple is better. Also, there are a lot of new online platforms for managing bid submissions and many of them have great benefits. Exploring those options cuts down on paperwork and can make bid development that much easier.
Q: What tools and bidding resources does Land O’ Lakes® offer school districts?
A: Land O’Lakes recently invested in a new planning tool for school districts. The ProcessorLink Commodity Calculator Dashboard is a streamlined system that allows operators to easily plan and manage their commodity balances for all participating processors in one integrated site.
Want to know even more about the Land O’Lakes Foodservice team? Click here to learn more about each foodservice expert and find more tips and tricks to help in your kitchen.
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