Description: Dr. Jane Logan, a Pennsylvania native, was educated at Indiana State College, Ohio University, and The Ohio State University, and spent her working career in Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, and Mississippi. She is a former Virginia State Director for School Nutrition Programs, as well as a past Executive Director of the National Food Service Management Institute.
Jeffrey Boyce: I am Jeffrey Boyce and it is June 28, 2007, and I am here in Richmond, Virginia, with Dr. Jane Logan. Thank you Dr. Logan so much for taking the time to TALK with ME today.
Jane Logan: Welcome. I am glad to have you in Richmond and delighted to get acquainted and learn about what you are doing with the Institute.
JB: Well, thank you. This is a really interesting project, the oral histories. Could we begin today with you telling me a little bit about yourself, where you were born and grew up?
JL: I was born in western Pennsylvania in New Castle, about an hour and a half north of Pittsburgh, and grew up primarily in the vicinity of New Castle and Sharon. After graduating from high school I went to Indiana State College, now Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where I majored in Home Economics Education. I continued to Ohio University to earn a Master of Science degree. After graduating, I followed my husband for most of his career. We have lived in Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia. While we lived in Columbus, Ohio, I earned my doctorate at The Ohio State University. After moving to Virginia a second time, we lived and worked in Richmond for a number of years. Later, I moved to Mississippi for five years.
JB: What a mobile career. What were your earliest recollections of school lunch? Was there a lunch program in your elementary school?
JL: When I started first grade it was in a city school in Sharon, Pennsylvania, where they did not have a school lunch program. I am going to date myself a little bit, but at the time everybody went home for lunch. Of course the students all walked to school. When we moved to the country I went to a one-room school with six grades. Obviously it did not have a lunch program. I rode the bus to school and walked home. After moving to another location I went to a two-room school. Both of these schools were within ten miles of a city. Entering junior high, my parents sent me, as a tuition student, to New Wilmington, where the schools also did not have lunch programs. Everybody went home or packed a lunch until my senior year, when they added a lunch program in the new high school.
JB: So your senior year was your first experience with the school-prepared lunch?
JB: What was the typical lunch like then or was there a typical lunch?
JL: I would say the typical lunch was what people consider a “traditional school lunch” to be, meat, potatoes, vegetables, bread, milk, and perhaps dessert. We did not have French fries and certainly none of the more commonly hand-held items that are available in school lunches today. There were none of the ethnic, convenience, or variety of food items available today – nor menu choices. There were McDonalds restaurants in the cities, but fast food restaurants were not common. I think the price may have been 25 cents for lunch and 10 cents for milk.
JB: But it was what they called a Type A lunch?
JL: Oh yes, it was a Type A lunch, a complete lunch and, of course, they sold milk separately. There was no a-la-carte, nor additional purchased items. You either bought or packed lunch. You bought milk, but you couldn’t buy anything else.
JB: You said your career sort of followed your husband’s, but how did you get into child nutrition?
JL: After I received my baccalaureate degree I went on to Ohio University, where I majored in Foods & Nutrition, with the plan to go into food product development. But I married near the end of graduate school and my perspective changed on what I was going to do. I taught school for a year; however, after our move from Columbus to Cincinnati, I became a nutritionist in the Maternal and Child Health program in the Cincinnati Health Department. It opened up a whole new dimension in career opportunities. I also worked in a maternal public health program in Baltimore County, Maryland, for a short period of time while living there. When we returned to Columbus, I decided to enter a doctoral program with an emphasis on human nutrition and preventive medicine. My first interest was in public health, but I soon became interested in nutrition education, which related to my previous health department work. My interest in the child nutrition programs began with the NET Program (NETP) which was just beginning while I was in graduate school. I had some involvement with that program at the time.
After moving to Richmond, Virginia, I was hired as the Nutrition Education and Training Program coordinator for the state agency. I coordinated nutrition education and training activities for several years and subsequently became the state director for the school nutrition programs in 1988. In all, I worked for the Virginia Department of Education for thirteen years. Then I went to the University of Mississippi to be Executive Director for the National Food Service Management Institute.
I think my career is one of those examples of the importance of remaining flexible to see what opportunities will come your way. It is hard today, to predict where you will be in twenty years or what changes will occur personally or professionally. You have to grow in what you’re doing and continue to look and learn and see where the best fit is for you. Throughout my career, however, there was a common thread focused on education, health, and nutrition education, particularly for children.
JB: In the development was there a special person, a mentor perhaps, who sort of guided you along the way?
JL: Not really. There were several people who I met and admired while working, and from whom I learned more about my profession and leadership. There was no single person who was a career mentor. Of course, one learns a great deal from the experiences they have.
JB: Could you give me an idea of how your educational background helped prepare you for the different positions that you’ve held?
JL: The scope of a Home Economics major while I was in college prepared graduates for a variety of careers. We had one elective in four years – all the other course work was planned for the Home Economics majors. It is interesting that my undergraduate education included two courses related to the school lunch program – School Lunchroom Management. I’m not sure I understood the purpose at the time, but apparently many Home Economics teachers managed the school lunch program while teaching Home Economics classes. After taking the school lunch management courses and labs I did not think much more about them. Food service management was not where my interests lay. In graduate school at Ohio University I majored in Foods & Nutrition with two minors. Having a broader education, including a Human Nutrition major and Preventive Medicine minor at The Ohio State University continued to expand my knowledge base. I also was involved in many professional groups where I benefited from seminars and other educational opportunities.
The combination of education and interest in learning helped me to be open to seeking and learning about new opportunities. Identifying what and where to learn new information and trends helps prepare for opportunities to enhance your ability to meet the goals of your position and work.
I believe in continuous learning not just in one’s specific field, but also learning in other fields of work. You may read about something that has nothing to do specifically with your work, but there are ideas that may be adapted or applied. Nutrition and food science are exciting fields which draw from many other disciplines. Whether it’s in business, or science, or art, there is useful information you can learn and possibly adapt. Various disciplines provide ideas for improving education in the preparation, presentation, and consumption of food or in the education and promotion of eating well and healthfully.
JB: I hadn’t really thought of that before. Even presentation…
JL: Yes – presentation incorporates artistic elements to appeal to the senses and make the food more desirable.
JB: What were some of the biggest challenges, problems, or accomplishments that you had to deal with as the head of the state agency?
JL: I think there was a great period of transition from the more traditional Type A school lunch that was provided in the 70’s and early 1980s and the trend toward more hand-held food, more choices, and more awareness of other ethnic foods. When I first started with the state agency there were school divisions that did not provide food choices and items like bagels or tacos. The biggest challenge, though, was probably the availability of à la carte food and the sale of snack foods. The Commonwealth of Virginia was fortunate to have a policy that governed the sale of foods during lunch. That regulation helped control some of the food items that could be sold. We were able to have that policy also apply to the School Breakfast Program. The sale of à la carte items was one of the really big challenges. There were always the questions regarding selling various food or beverages to students. The need to reflect current nutrition information in the school menus also was an educational and administrative challenge. We also were challenged to increase the availability of the School Breakfast Program in schools.
Beyond that, dealing with all of the regulatory changes was challenging. Regulations are a natural part of the school nutrition programs, child care, and summer food programs. The state agency is responsible for transmitting, educating, and monitoring regulations. One difference from many states, however, is the Department of Education in Virginia only administers the School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. It does not administer the child care or summer food programs. They are managed by the USDA Mid-Atlantic Regional Office.
JB: So then no child care or adult care?
JL: The programs are in Virginia; however, they are administered by the regional office.
JB: You said there was a regulation that meant that some of the less healthy foods were available at the school, but just not during lunch?
JL: Yes, I was not there when the regulation was established, but there were very thoughtful people who wanted to protect the integrity of a school lunch. The regulation basically said that items that are available in a school lunch program can be sold à la carte. Desserts were included in the list, so that allowed food service directors or managers to sell cookies, cake, or some of those other things. However, the regulation only covered the lunch period. As I mentioned, it became a challenge to interpret the regulation with an increased demand to sell other food items. We ultimately deferred to requiring the five percent nutrient value of one of the eight major nutrients as a necessary contribution. A food serving had to have at least five percent of a major nutrient to be sold. Plain bottled water was allowed to be sold when bottled water became popular. No flavored waters, no additional sweeteners, or additional ingredients could be added to the water. We were very fortunate. I think Virginia was one of the first states to have that type of regulation in its lunch program. Obviously we would have liked to have seen it extended throughout the school day and be more comprehensive, but there are challenges to adding or extending regulations.
JB: How many districts did you oversee in the state of Virginia?
JL: One hundred and thirty-two. Virginia is set up in a county/city system. Each county is one school division, while cities, such as Richmond City, are separate school divisions. The one hundred and thirty-two school divisions vary from some of the largest in the country to very, very small school divisions.
JB: You said thirteen years with the state agency?
JB: And then immediately from there you went to the National Food Service Management Institute?
JB: How did that come about?
JL: When the National Food Service Management Institute was authorized, like others, I wondered where it would be located and what its resources would be. It was exciting to have it created to benefit the CNP. After it was established I found the Institute to be an excellent resource for our state agency to use for nutrition education and food service training programs and materials. We were a small team in the state agency for the amount of work required, so the NFSMI helped to maximize resources. The Institute was able to arrange for material development, as well as provide for training consultants.
JB: Tell me about that. So you actually utilized NFSMI before you went there?
JL: Oh yes.
JB: How did you use it as the state director in Virginia?
JL: We did several things. We would contract with the Institute for material development. Traditionally, Virginia had a summer manager training program. Materials and trainers were contracted through NFSMI. In addition, state agency staff was able to attend some NFSMI in-service education programs. We also arranged for the viewing of the NFSMI satellite educational programs at school division sites.
JB: For cafeteria managers?
JL: For cafeteria managers and for food service directors. As I said, the programs and resources could be on specific topics where we wanted to focus. We had nutrition education materials developed. We used NFSMI to locate speakers or consultants for us. It was a way our state agency could maximize the dollars we had for nutrition education and food service training by using the NFSMI. We found it to be a wonderful partnership between the agency and the Institute.
JB: And so then getting back to how you got to the Institute?
JL: When Dr. Josephine Martin retired from the Institute the NFSMI conducted a national search. I entered the application process and was selected to be the next Executive Director. I was there during a very exciting time because of the expansion of programming, funding, and the construction of the NFSMI building. The building gave the NFSMI not only a physical presence on campus but a visual image for CNP personnel across the country. Child nutrition professionals could identify with the Institute as their resource.
JB: And it is a beautiful building.
JL: Yes it is.
JB: So, tell me about some of the activities, or the things you did as Executive Director.
JL: The activities were varied. The Institute encompasses so much in terms of program of work. My responsibilities included leadership for completing the grant programs of work and USDA cooperative agreements. Of course recruiting and hiring of good staff to accomplish those goals was very important. One important area was developing partnerships with state agencies and the USDA in particular. In addition, we needed to reach out to other federal agencies and professional organizations where NFSMI could partner to develop or provide resources, materials, and training opportunities.
It was a time when technology advances were important for the Institute to adopt because NFSMI can’t be in all places physically. The opportunities which technology provides were areas of great interest and learning and we learned a lot!
Meeting the expectations of the Institute’s various customers was a priority. We had, and I imagine is still true, a number of cooperative agreements with the USDA, in addition to the grant. There were many opportunities to be involved in exciting and challenging work for the Institute to benefit the child nutrition programs. And of course, the NFSMI building was constructed.
JB: And you were there for five years?
JB: Once you left there, are you still active in child nutrition?
JL: No. When I left Richmond for the Institute my husband stayed in Richmond. When I returned to Richmond I became involved in very different activities and now I am very active in volunteer work. Most of it is in other areas other than child nutrition – although some is child related. My activities primarily are in community service, cultural organizations, and church.
JB: If you were advising someone thinking of making child nutrition a career, what advice would you give them?
JL: Child nutrition is a very exciting profession to be in – providing the leadership to benefit children and serve children. People can choose the level of service where they want to work in child nutrition. They can choose to be on the front line, so to speak, where they are relating directly with the students or the children by preparing and serving meals. Those positions provide immediate feedback and enjoyment through serving children. A manager has the exciting opportunity to operate a nutritional, educational food service business within the context of a school or child care facility. However, the most exciting part of working in child nutrition is that the programs provide health and educational benefits for children.
Child nutrition is a food service operation so it runs as a business and has the challenges of meeting the expectations of the governmental agencies. The district director position can be exciting and rewarding with many opportunities to learn, grow, and innovate. A director can grow professionally and personally by accessing the resources that are available in all disciplines and to work with a variety of professionals to meet the program goals.
I encourage people to consider child nutrition as a career because it is so varied. There are always challenges and new ideas to consider and a wonderful service is provided. In addition to the schools and child and adult care, there are opportunities in government and business. The field utilizes a broad base of knowledge and skills. An individual can continue to grow professionally and yet remain connected to the community and her/his family. There are so many potential resources to make an exciting program for students.
JB: As far as education, you said yours was very broad and that seems beneficial maybe, if you don’t know exactly where you want to go with your career. Any tips on how to pick their educational plan?
JL: If they were specifically interested in child nutrition they should certainly look at food service operations, food service management, and/or dietetics. There are positions where it’s important for an individual to have the American Dietetic Association registration. There are other areas of the child nutrition programs where that is not necessary. Having some work experience, perhaps in the business world, is useful in managing the programs. Those experiences bring a different perspective outside the school and child care facility, which enrich the skills and knowledge of a CNP leader. Directors come from many disciplines. The key to success is learning and growing with the educational and professional resources that are available – through NFSMI, professional organizations, peer networks, and research. This isn’t unique to child nutrition; it happens in many professions, where a broader view benefits your work. The knowledge and skills learned in other disciplines can be an asset in becoming a better professional. An understanding of the principles of nutrition, management, child development, and food service operations are essential.
When I was an undergraduate and first mentioned going to graduate school the director of my department said, “Well, we’ve always discouraged people from going straight to graduate school. We’ve felt that they should teach for a couple of years. However, I’ve changed my mind because we’re losing them. They’re not going on to graduate school after they begin working.” So, there is the challenge. People get involved in their careers and their families, but advancing your education and working in your professional field is valuable. Work experience brings a different perspective when an individual returns to school. Many directors have been teachers, worked in business, hospitals, or other fields, which enabled them to become stronger and better directors. As far as choosing, there are numerous colleges and universities where individuals can earn their undergraduate degrees throughout the country. I thought the program that Iowa State University offered for a doctoral degree was very exciting. Students were able to complete a large amount of their course work through distance learning. I think that opportunity will benefit the profession as a whole in developing the leaders of tomorrow. In addition to distance learning, another valuable resource is the community college system, which is very accessible and can be a great place to start a professional education.
JB: Anything else you’d like to add today?
JL: Since you contacted me about doing this interview I thought about the time the National School Lunch Act first started – early in my life. Reading about the beginnings of child feeding programs in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that were established in various parts of the country puts the process and programs in perspective. Years ago I ran across books in the Virginia Department of Education which included annual reports showing the number of schools on the lunch program each year. You could see the growth year by year in the state. It wasn’t like a magic wand waved in 1946 and a lunch program was in every school. It also is good to note what communities did to help children have a meal while at school prior to the federal programs. It was an evolutionary and growth process.
The child nutrition programs provide a wonderful resource for students, as well as their parents, and for education. The programs are challenged by pressures, within and outside the school, and with students’ expectations. Just as schools are challenged by social, financial, cultural, and political pressures, the nutrition programs also are. However, with priorities put on well rounded educations and promoting healthy lifestyles for children – and adults, we will have healthy and educated citizens who can lead the country through this century. My hope is the child nutrition programs will continue to grow in their service for children, benefiting each generation.
JB: Well, thank you so much. It’s been such a pleasure visiting with you today and hearing about your wonderful career.
JL: It is a pleasure talking with you and it’s set me to thinking about some things I may need to do as a result. I appreciate you coming and thank you for the opportunity.
JB: Thank you for having me.