Interviewees: Shirley Watkins Bowden, Dorothy Caldwell, Josephine Martin, and Mary Nix
Interviewer: Jeffrey Boyce
Date: May 21, 2014
Location: National Food Service Management Institute
Description: Oral History interview with American School Food Service Association Past Presidents Shirley Watkins Bowden, Dorothy Caldwell, Josephine Martin, and Mary Nix, regarding the founding of the National Food Service Management Institute, May 21, 2014, at the National Food Service Management Institute, The University of Mississippi.
Jeffrey Boyce: I am Jeffrey Boyce and it is May 21, 2014, and I am here at the National Food Service Management Institute with some very special guests today, all past presidents of what’s now known as the School Nutrition Association, along with a multitude of other professional accomplishments, which I’ll let each of you share as we go through the day. We have Mary Nix, Dr. Josephine Martin, Shirley Watkins Bowden, and Dorothy Caldwell. Welcome ladies.
Josephine Martin: Glad to be here.
Jeffrey Boyce: Could we begin today by you telling us your very first memories of the Institute, how this institution came to be?
Josephine Martin: Well, I guess since I was the first of the group down here – the Institute came into being a long time ago. There was a group of state leaders who met – just a really private session – up in Sapphire Valley, North Carolina, and this was back about 1971. And we were dreaming of what we needed to have in child nutrition to carry it forward in the future. And one of the ideas that came out at that point was that we needed a center for education, particularly education and training. But that idea laid dormant until 1977, when the School Nutrition Association (SNA) had a strategic planning conference in Vail, Colorado, and one of the work groups at that strategic planning session identified as a goal of the Association that we needed to have a national institute. And then we ran into some national problems of economics and the idea was dormant until the late ‘80s. And at that point Marshall Matz, who was our legislative council, and Jane Wynn, president of the Association, decided that we needed to ask Congress for something. We had been fighting to preserve the program up until that time, and they decided what to ask Congress for – was a small grant to establish a feasibility study to establish a national food service management institute. Well, that idea came, and then Shirley Watkins came in as president of the Association, and during her year Congress passed authorization for a national food service management institute. And Shirley may want to add something to that.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Jane and I had served as president and vice-president of the Association and talked many nights about how we might be able to move this notion that we had forward. And of course, as we transitioned from Jane’s presidency to my presidency we thought we would continue to push the idea. And to our surprise the American Dietetic Association (ADA) was discussing some of the same issues. And the person who was president of ADA was vice-president when I was vice-president of then ASFSA (American School Food Service Association). And she and I talked about how we could make this happen. And of course ADA wanted a piece of the action to say that they were part of this issue. And as it turned out she and I were installed about the same time. Her name was Allene Vaden. She was lobbying Congress as were we. And it ended up she had an unfortunate, untimely death. Her thrust was that she wanted the institute in Mississippi, and that’s where we got the biggest support from Congress, was in Mississippi.
Josephine Martin: And at that point I think ADA – that’s now the Academy on Nutrition and Dietetics – had kind of given up on it and had determined that the School Food Service Association would be the one that sponsored it. And at that point the School Food Service Association asked Dr. Vaden, from the University of Southern Mississippi, to come to Washington at the Legislative Action Conference, and to go visit Senator Thad Cochran and Congressman Jamie Whitten, who was chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and tell them that Mississippi needed to have this institute. And they were asking for an institute to be established in Mississippi. And the reason the legislation was worded in that particular way was that Congressman Whitten was chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Money was tight, and the only way that the institute would be established would be to have it in Mississippi. And from there on – the feasibility – they provided money in Shirley’s year for a feasibility study.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: And that was the $50,000, and we thought ‘Wow, that’s a lot of money, $50,000.’ When we got started we decided ‘Wow, that’s not any money at all, and how are we going to get this done?’ But we knew we could get it done. We had no choice. We had to use that $50,000 as resourcefully as we could.
Jeffrey Boyce: What were some of the unmet needs that brought you all to believe that there should be an institute created?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: One of the things that we struggled with for years was the training and how could we ensure that people who prepared school meals were educated. Many of our wonderful, wonderful employees in school nutrition were not necessarily in some instances high school graduates. They could cook, and they cooked in their communities, and they were noted for being good cooks, but they lacked what we thought would expand or enhance our programs. They needed to understand recipe development, understand what nutritious foods were, how to plan, prepare those nutritious foods. We thought that was essential. And we also knew that McDonalds had a McDonalds University where they trained people to prepare food. Sanitation was an issue – and we thought that our programs should be the very best that we could give for our children in this country. And the only way you can do it is through training and education. And I think that’s something we all struggled with across the country –persons who were hired to manage and operate millions of dollars – we may or may not have had good financial skills. And that too was another reason why we thought that’s what we need, we need what McDonalds has, a place to train people. And thank goodness that we have something that uses scientific information to plan the training programs and to develop those programs. It’s not a fly-by-night, and we didn’t want that. We wanted something that would provide the very best training, a place where the materials could be developed, and that was our idea of what that institute should be.
Mary Nix: And then there was a lack of research to indicate the real needs of children and the skills the school employees needed. Nobody had identified what skills were needed to serve children. And nobody identified how long it would take to serve a meal. There was so much research that needed to be done, and it was a perfect place to do it. The other thing was there was nowhere to collect materials that had been developed by states. There were some really good materials in the states, but there was nowhere to collect them and distribute them to the states. So those were two big things that I see that were needed for the Institute.
Josephine Martin: And then to go back up on what Mary has said, I think we go back to the mid-60s and President Kennedy’s War on Poverty and the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and subsequently the passage of the Child Nutrition Act and the Civil Rights Act, with all of this, programs were expanding all over the country. With the Child Nutrition Act we got the Breakfast Program, and then a little later on in the ‘60s we got the Child Care Food Program. And every state was having to develop its own materials, having to do its own training. And what we found out was we had a lot of duplication. Dorothy was in Arkansas. I was in Georgia. And we were both developing the same kinds of materials to implement the regulations, and we were duplicating a lot of effort and we needed a place where there was a centralization of training and research. And as Mary said, we asked for research. And when we would go to Congress they would say, ’Oh, we just know that it makes a difference. We just know that people can cook. We just know. Why do you need that? Well that’s just a known fact.” But it’s not documented. So we needed research and education. And then we needed a way to transfer that information among all of the states. So that was really the background of it –that we went from small, almost one-room schools in a lot of places, that had no training, to large central kitchens that required a different kind of training. So it was all of these things that indicated that we needed a central place for training and research and delivery of materials –
Shirley Watkins Bowden: – that was consistent. Dorothy may have been doing one thing in her school district, and Mary another. And both Mary and I were in large school districts, and obviously we needed a lot more training for more people. And Dorothy had a small school district, but that training was so different from one school district to the next school district, whether it was one class a year,- a two-hour-long session before school started may have been the most that people were getting for training. And the disparities in that training across the nation were absolutely unbelievable.
Jeffrey Boyce: And you were where?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: I was in Memphis, which was considered a major city, and we were then the twelfth-largest school district. And our enrollment and participation jumped in the early ‘70s from about 25,000 to almost 100,000. It grew so fast, as Dr. Martin said, that we didn’t even have time to think about how you’re going to train, how you’re going to feed, where you’re going to get your food from. It was growing just that fast. And the implementation of free and reduced price meals – the programs just boomeranged across the country, which was giving you an even greater need for the training.
Josephine Martin: It was with the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 that we had the first money that was set aside for economically needy children. Before that time we had a minimal amount of money that was from the Section 4 of the National School Lunch Act, and that Section 4 money had to be used for all lunches. And then in 1962 we got a small supplement for economically needy, but it was not until 1966 when the law was passes that provided for free and reduced price meals, that we got the first money for school districts to use for free and reduced price meals. And then by 1970 we had a national law that provided a separate reimbursement rate for free and reduced price meals. So it was all that Shirley said. It was growing so fast that we were all running like mad just to keep up. And we didn’t always keep up, but we ran fast.
Jeffrey Boyce: And what was your position at that time? You were with the Georgia Department of Education?
Josephine Martin: I was the state director of the school nutrition program in Georgia. By that time we had established training requirements for food service directors, so that our food service directors were required to be professionally trained, and within five years of employment – they came in with a baccalaureate degree – and within five years they were to have a master’s degree, and that law is still prevailing. Later on in the early ‘80s the State Board of Education required school districts, except for the very, very small school districts, to have a professionally trained food service director, and those food service directors were paid on a state salary schedule.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: And that was different for other school districts around the country. Georgia set the standard, but that was not necessarily what was happening across the country.
Dorothy Caldwell: Of course today we are getting ready to have professional standards nationally.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: But just how long has that taken?
Dorothy Caldwell: It took a long time.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: 1970 to 2014. That’s a long time for a program as dynamic as the school nutrition program not to have national standards for those people who are preparing food, and must adhere to sanitation practices, not to have trained professionals operating that program. And that was one of the advantages that we saw in having a national institute, where training would be consistent, standards could be set, if we finally had the research to know what those standards should be, and someone who could develop training materials for professionals. It’s taken us a long time. We’ve come a long way in order to get what we thought and we dreamed of in the ‘60s, to get us to this point, with a National Food Service Management Institute.
Josephine Martin: And I think when you look at it in the big picture, that the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act brought full circle what we were working on from the time that the National School Lunch Act was passed in 1946 to where we are today. We had dreams of a program that would meet the school day needs of children, and we did not get that fully until the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act came in. That act brought us full circle, and now if we can just see that we can implement that act. It’s going to take time to fully implement it, but the Institute is a major part in helping us to realize exactly how we’re going to take full advantage of that legislation to provide the nutritious, healthy meals, and to help children be ready to learn when they go in the classroom, as Dorothy Caldwell says. That was one of her major contributions when she was president of the Association I think.
Dorothy Caldwell: Well, at the time these gals were talking about things, I was a beginning school nutrition director, if you can imagine that I was ever that young. I didn’t know much about it. I needed to know a lot more. I had a home economics degree, but that did not really prepare me to do what needed to be done. And the Institute was not yet up and running, so I would go visit with my colleagues in the state and learn on the job what was their best practice. Later people would come to my district and learn what the best practice was. You can remember Shirley; we’ve talked about that a lot of times. But today, with the Institute, we can share best practices all across the country and people can come here and get training, and then they can benefit from all these other services that are provided around the country, not just here. I think one of the big things we needed when the Institute started was a way for people to communicate with each other. If you’re the director of a school nutrition program in Marianna, Arkansas, a little town of 5,000 people, or if you are in a big city like my neighbor in Memphis, you’re the only person that has that particular job. You don’t have anyone to cry with or to celebrate with, depending on what your day was like. So the Institute provided a way for us to get together, and then later technologically we were able to get together online, and we shared those good things that we knew that worked, the best practices, and that’s been a real advantage. The Institute has also helped people to move forward with education. Very shortly after I took my job I decided that I needed to have a master’s degree because I was working in a district, an education program, a school district where all the people who made decisions around the table had at least a master’s degree – the principal, and all of the other people – and I had a bachelor’s degree. I was a registered dietitian, but that didn’t quite carry the same weight, the same cachet as a master’s degree did. So I went back and got that. It was not required, but I knew that if I was going to work in an education setting I needed to be at the table and be recognized with the same degree of credibility. And I think the Institute has provided that for us. We have many people in our ranks today who have PhDs. Some of those like Dr. Martin got theirs long before the Institute was here, but other people went on to get doctorates, and I think the Institute really had a lot to do with that. They encouraged people to get higher education, as well as the training that is so important for all levels of people who are working in the school nutrition programs.
Josephine Martin: I think Dorothy has brought up another point when she said that she realized that she needed further training, but at that point none of us had realized on a national basis the competencies that were needed to be an effective director. And in looking back over some of the early Institute materials, that was one of the items that was identified very early on – that the Institute needed to identify the competencies needed for directors. And one of the first research projects that Applied Research did was to identify the competencies needed for food service directors. By this time they have identified the competencies for managers and for on-site personnel. So that has been a progression of identifying competencies. So now any school administrator that wants to know what are the competencies that I need to look for in a school nutrition position for a director, or a manager, or a school nutrition person, then I can go to the Institute and find that. Shirley Watkins Bowden: So the Institute would provide information that could be used not only by school food service people and personnel, but also provide information that would help superintendents, other school administrators, if they had to make a decision on the type of personnel needed in school food service. So where do you go to get any information on what are the skill sets needed if I am to hire a food service director? Nowhere in this country was there information in any central location that would help people if they had to do some hiring. Now that information is made available. I’m not sure to what extent hiring personnel, employment offices, human resources are using this information, but say you wanted to staff your school food service division, then how would you know what’s needed? That would be an excellent resource. During those days we had a good working relationship with school business officials, and they then knew, because so many of the school business officials had school food service people under their purview, and of course our school business officials knew exactly what they needed to do because we made sure that they knew who we were, what our needs were, and how to access this information. So this served as a wonderful resource for those people in school districts other than school food service people, which was a wonderful advantage for having the Institute.
Dorothy Caldwell: I think having these competencies that we’ve talked about developed was one of the things that helped us move toward the standards for professional development now, because we could not have done it way back when. When I took my job I asked the superintendent for a job description, and he kind of grinned. I had been his home ec teacher several years before. And he said, “There isn’t one, but you can figure it out.” Well, that was a real vote of confidence, and I enjoyed that, but how much better it would have been if I had not had to make quite as many mistakes, and I could have gone to some of the things that we have now, because the Institute has made that available for us in this area and in many others – best practices all across the programs.
Josephine Martin: And I think another one that came close to that, after the competencies we did, was that we started – the dietary goals came in in 1980, and schools started implementing the dietary goals, but we didn’t have any real definition of what was really needed, but I think it was in Shirley’s year as president where we had the long-range planning conference, and we began to talk about nutrition integrity, but nutrition integrity had never been defined. And so at that long-range planning conference we came up – Gene White was chairman of that sub-group, and that group came up with a definition of nutrition integrity. And then when Dorothy was president she asked the Institute to – would you pick up there?
Dorothy Caldwell: I’d be glad to. I love to talk about nutrition integrity standards because I think actually if you look through the years they’ve turned out to be the basis for what the Institute of Medicine has recommended, and they took several years for that to happen – but we did pick that up at the School Nutrition Association, as it is today called, trying to put it in place with other things that we were doing, so that the nutrition integrity standards would become important to other programs that we would be doing. You recall writing up a program application for a grant from CDC for the School Nutrition Foundation, and we got The Healthy Edge out of that. The Healthy Edge kind of moved into other things, so we really at that time were trying to work in the Association to have things build on one another, just like the Institute has done. And the nutrition integrity standards – we took this one sentence as I recall – it was a pretty long sentence, as you know they are when we’re trying to get every I dotted and t crossed – but we took that and tried to break it down into just exactly what it would take, what it would mean, to apply the nutrition integrity standards to the school district. And we came to the Institute, and the research division did the research, so that what we said through a variety of ways – we had focus groups and we had questionnaires, all of those things, but the Institute actually refined that, those nutrition integrity standards. And from that we developed a brochure – I shall never forget – that had a number of points in it. They are very consistent with the Institute of Medicine standards. We took that to a lot of the different associations, the School Board Association, the Superintendents Association, the School Business Officials, all of those, to get their buy in for it. And because the Institute had done the research they were much more likely to say yes to that I believe. We would never have gotten the support from it if we had not had the Institute doing that research, and making it available.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: We also had credibility issues because we did not have good science, good standards. We had no way of knowing. Sometimes it was a shot in the dark on some of the kinds of things that we wanted to do. But with the Institute’s research arm we were really able to sharpen our skills in order to work with the Institute of Medicine, and even ADA, at that time. We were not necessarily considered the premier nutrition operation.
Dorothy Caldwell: And we don’t want to lose that.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: That’s sacred for us. And now we stand right there, shoulder to shoulder, with all of the other organizations in nutrition and nutrition education, and that’s a significant contribution for us. That’s trailblazing unlike anything else we’ve ever done. And I think it puts us at a level, as Dorothy says, we don’t want to give up. We want to keep that and move even higher, and that’s what the Institute does for us.
Dorothy Caldwell: One of the things the Institute did that was so important, I think, to our growth as a profession was the financial management research that they did, because every school district across the country had a different way of keeping their records. There were certain things we had to do, but we didn’t necessarily accumulate those in the same way. We didn’t use them. So there were not a lot of ways to really compare what’s going on here and there and yonder. So they did some financial management work that was outstanding at the University of Southern Mississippi, and we were able to use that through the years.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: And then the training that came, once the research was done, the research supported the training packet that the Institute was able to develop. And I don’t know any other professional organization that has been able to pull that off as successfully as the Institute. One of the concerns that was raised by a lot of people when we started talking about the institute, “Well, where is it going to be?” And when we started saying, “It’s going to be in Mississippi,” that created a firestorm like no other firestorm. We didn’t have enough fire stations to put out the fire. It was horrible, and we finally said, “It doesn’t make any difference where it is with the advances in technology” – we talked about it then. We didn’t have very much, but we thought that with the advances in technology, we can take our training programs anywhere. So, if you are in South Bend, Indiana, or you are in the hills of Kentucky, in California, in New York, it doesn’t make any difference where you are. We can take that training to you. Then I think that kind of broke for people who thought ‘Mississippi? NO, but Purdue? Maybe.’
Josephine Martin: Kansas State.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Kansas State. Cornell.
Jeffrey Boyce: Now you say this created a firestorm. Within?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Within the School Nutrition Association. They did not want to come to Mississippi. And they thought it was just too far away to deliver the kind of training that they envisioned. And when we talked about technology then, it was like a dumb terminal that you’re working with. And to see what technology is today and how we’re able to deliver training wherever you are, and not only in this country, but worldwide, that training can take place – webinars – all kinds of things that can be done now that we didn’t know then, but we said, “Technology, we have technology and that can help us.” And it truly has been a blessing.
Josephine Martin: I think, you know, picking up on that, and our first role in reaching the nation from the Institute comes back to – the Institute was the only place, and I like to visualize when Dr. Phillips was the Associate Executive Director and I was the Executive Director, that we had this circle. And this circle said research, development of education, and delivery. And that research was at USM, education was at Ole Miss, delivery was at Ole Miss. And we did a circle. We would take the research that was done at USM, and then education and training here at Ole Miss, would develop it in the training packages, and then our delivery system at Ole Miss would take it nationwide. And right when the Institute was first established here in the state the Institute was under the Division of Continuing Education. And the director of Continuing Education just couldn’t understand how these two ladies could do it. Well, we had at Ole Miss an absolutely fantastic technology program even back then. And Ed Meeks had developed the ability to do training by satellite. And we said, “If they can train math teachers by satellite, why can’t we train school nutrition people by satellite?” And so it was determined that during that first year we would have a program up and running on satellite delivery. Well, the director then of Continuing Education just said we didn’t have the technical skills to write the scripts or get a program director to come in or a technology director to come in to do this and to deliver it. Well, Dr. Phillips knew the territory, and we named the person that we would like to have, and the director of Continuing said, “Oh, you could never get him.” Well, Dr. Phillips just picked up the phone and called him. “Oh sure, I would be glad to come and work with it.” And from there Dr. Phillips and I sat up night after night in our facility, which was the old Home Management House, and we wrote the script. And Ty cleaned it up. Now we had help from Carolyn Hopkins, because Carolyn was our on-site school nutrition professional. She knew all of the regulations if I didn’t remember what a regulation was, because she and I were the two people with school nutrition backgrounds, that we had spent our life in it. Well Carolyn was our technical consultant. And then we brought in Mary Nix, because Mary had just retired from her job, and they helped us to stay on track with what kind of training we needed to do by satellite. The first time we sent out the satellite, Dr. Phillips was very astute, and at that point she invited everybody who was anybody on the campus to come and observe the first satellite program. Those people from the Lyceum came over and saw how it was delivered and you have never seen a happier group of administrators from the Lyceum, and Education, and Continuing Education. They came over and said we did it. We knew we could do it, and from there on for several years we had the satellite training program. Of course technology has developed so beyond that now, but that was it.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: The other thing that we have to remember, there was not that much money. Not that much money, and to have two women who could skimp and scrape and find easy ways to get things done – sometimes not always easy– but they were able to take the meager resources and develop what we envisioned. And not only from the Institute, but working with other organizations to try to see how they could help us. This was not an easy task to try to make something out of nothing, with limited to no money. And we didn’t necessarily have a lot of support. People still did not understand the Institute and how invaluable it could be. And we had a tough time trying to get money from Congress to keep it going, so that wasn’t always easy.
Jeffrey Boyce: Before we get too far into once the Institute was already established, could each of you speak about your own role and some strategies or actual groundwork you did to try to get the legislation passed so there would be an institute.
Josephine Martin: I will start. ASFSA, or the legislative committee, asked Dr. Vaden to come to Washington and talk with the Mississippi congressmen and senators, and Dr. Vaden and I had worked very closely together in ASFSA, and we talked. And following that we lobbied Congress for the passage of the legislation. It really wasn’t a hard sell. It really was not a hard sell. I think once it was brought up, you had key people like Congressman Whitten for it, who was chairman of the Appropriations Committee, and you had Senator Cochran, who was totally for it –
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Bob Dole.
Josephine Martin: Bob Dole. It was a bipartisan thing. Senator Dole was so in favor of it, and Senator McGovern, that whole Select Committee on Hunger and Malnutrition, which was a very bipartisan committee, was in favor of it because they recognized it. So we had a lot of support in the Senate, and always bipartisan support. I think that has been the emphasis over the years – children’s needs are not partisan. They’re not Democratic and they’re not Republican. And they’re not Libertarian and they’re not independent. But they are needs of all children regardless of political philosophy. And we’ve tried to keep it that way all the time. It’s just for all children. It’s not a partisan issue, because the hope of the world is on the children, their education and their health and their wellbeing and having a productive citizenry. So my role at the beginning, before the legislation was funded, was just lobbying my own Georgia congressmen, because at that point I was in Georgia, and we did active lobbying. I had been legislative chairman for the Association and had some good connections, not only with our people in Georgia, but a number of people at the congressional level.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Well we had Senator McGovern –
Josephine Martin: Humphrey, Senator Humphrey.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Senator Humphrey.
Josephine Martin: Charles Percy.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Percy. And we had Sasser in Tennessee that was head of the Budget Committee. So when you think about the kinds of people that we had to go to Congress and lobby to get this done – it was part of the ASFSA, now SNA issue paper. The Institute was on that issue paper for a long time, several years, and we’re going back to Congress each year saying, “Here is what we need.” And incrementally asking – as we got one piece accomplished then we went back and asked for the next piece. So once we got that $50,000 we worked to get the next piece. “We need to have a building.” We worked to get that piece. So it was always part of an annual legislative issue paper as we worked Congress to get that done. But when you talk about the support, Jo and Mary could go in Georgia and work the House side and the Senate side. Dorothy’s in Arkansas working the same way, and I’m in Tennessee. And that was done throughout the country.
Mary Nix: I think those of us who were local directors really were the ones in the grassroots efforts. We knew who we could contact, how many letters, how many telegrams we could get to Washington in a few minutes. There were directors across the country that did the same thing. Within a matter of hours, or certainly days, there could be thousands of contacts made on any one issue. We were very careful when we were doing this grassroots effort that we would stick to one issue, and we would tell them exactly what we wanted and why we wanted it, why it was needed. And it was effective.
Jeffrey Boyce: Was that organized through the state nutrition associations?
Mary Nix: No, it was organized through the School Nutrition Association, and it sifted down to the state level to put legs on their instructions.
Dorothy Caldwell: I can recall when I had a congressman having breakfast at one of my little, tiny schools out in Lee County, Arkansas. It had about 250 students and I would be safe to say at least 199 of them were on free and reduced-price meals. And he came and had breakfast with us that day. And before he left I talked about this because I had been to that legislative action conference as a brand new person who knew nothing about what was going on in the world, but I was so excited about the possibility of a National Food Service Management Institute, so I mentioned that to him that day. And at that time I didn’t know about the talking points. I soon learned about all of those things. But Mary’s exactly right. The grassroots people really did get to every member of Congress and take the message. And that’s what got us here, I think.
Mary Nix: I think eating at school and actually seeing what’s served, and while they’re eating, they can eat and talk at the same time – Mama said that was not alright – I did have a little time to say, “This is the training that we need. This is the training we require in Cobb, but we don’t know what’s out there. There’s got to be a lot of training available, but we just don’t know about it, and we need somewhere for this to be housed. We need specific training materials, and if we had this institute, you know, we could have that.” And they heard it. Because they were eating, they recognized some of the things that needed to be taught, and it was just like they had a buy-in with every bite. By the time they finished they had been sold.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: And I think it’s interesting as we talk about how we’ve come so far in such a short period of time, with so little money, and I go back to that McDonalds University, where they trained people to flip hamburgers, and taught them how to fry french-fries. That wasn’t what we thought was needed for our food service industry, but we knew if they could do that, and train people how to do three things, we certainly needed that, and could use that as a model for the kind of training that we needed. But we needed to raise it to a different level, because this was about nutrition and nutrition education for children. And we’re feeding our future, and we need to have the best research available, the best skills available, even to helping school food service directors design, and help them to understand the kind of equipment that was needed, in a food service operation. I thought that was one of the significant contributions when we had training not only for the food service director on what’s needed in a kitchen, how to make it efficient, how to help the architect design what was needed. And even bringing architects into the Institute, to help them understand what our needs really are, than for that architect to design something that does not work. I hate to say this, but some men designing something for women to work in have no clue what it means to stand on your feet all day, and move a steamer way over here, where you’ve got to walk fifty steps to get to the steamer, and walk back somewhere to get some water, and not understanding anything about what the needs are in a school nutrition program versus what’s needed in a restaurant. And that was significant to help us understand, even understanding the cost of purchasing equipment, how to negotiate, and how to scale, the scaling of foods and what that meant. For an architect to come here and understand some of that, and for us to be able to say, “Mr. Architect, here is what we really need, and here is how it needs to be designed.” And to speak professionally – if we have all the design skills in the world now – that would not have been possible had it not been for the Institute.
Dorothy Caldwell: The Institute’s research in that area was significant, it was really, really significant. And the materials that were provided as a result of that research were very, very helpful.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Even for equipment manufacturers, who sometimes had no clue. They would design something, but primarily designing it based on what’s done in a restaurant, and not in a school kitchen. Our equipment is going to last 15-20 years longer than what a restaurant is going to do in how restaurant equipment is used. I think that opened the eyes for a lot of people.
Dorothy Caldwell: I wasn’t around in those earliest years when you all did some things. I was at the second Legislative Action Conference (LAC), and I think that’s when Jane Wynn was Legislative Action Chair wasn’t she, the second LAC?
Josephine Martin: Let’s see. The first LAC was 1972 or ’73, and this started in the ‘80s, so Jane and Shirley were president in ’87-’88, or was it ’88-’89?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: I was’88-‘89 and she was ’87-’88.
Jeffrey Boyce: So you were president when the legislation was actually passed.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Yes.
Dorothy Caldwell: Who was president at that second LAC?
Josephine Martin: Louise Sublette was president when LAC started and then Lucille Barnett, and Elsie King, and then me.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: I was employed under Lucille Barnett, at the end of her administration, and that was 1969.
Josephine Martin: Lucille Barnett started the youth program, YAC.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: It was at a conference in Detroit.
Josephine Martin: Yes, on the river, the riverboat.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Yes, and that was ’69.
Jeanette Phillips: Girls, let me ask a question. In the years that you were all in the organization what was the most traumatic years as far as funding cuts?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: That was the Reagan administration.
Dorothy Caldwell: Funds were cut for the paid students and it was bad.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: That was the most stressful year that I had. You didn’t have any money. And then that’s when the programs started to grow like topsy-turvy. And how are you going to do this? And the Fund for Needy School Children helped me get through.
Josephine Martin: During the Reagan administration all of the money was cut and it looked like it was going to turn into a total welfare program, because they cut the Section 4 reimbursement, which was already down low. They cut it I think three cents a meal, and they even cut the free and reduced reimbursement some during that time. They eliminated non-food assistance at that time. Jeffrey Boyce: What was the name of that first cut that you mentioned, because I read a lot about it in the Marshall Matz Papers? Was it Title 4, Section 4?
Josephine Martin: Section 4. And Marshall re-titled that, which was one of the most brilliant things Marshall ever did, and he did a lot of brilliant things. But it was always called ‘the money for the paid lunches’. Well, that wasn’t true. Marshall called it ‘the money for the infrastructure’, because if you did not have that basic grant you would not have a program. So when the Act was passed in ’46 the only money we had came from Section 4, so Marshall called that ‘infrastructure’, because that provided a basis for the schools and the school districts to get reimbursement for meals. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been reimbursed. So it was not until the Child Nutrition Act was passed in 1966 that Section 11 was added, and that was an extra supplement for free and reduced-price meals for economically needy children. And that’s when they started calling Section 4 for paid lunches. Up until that time it had just been the reimbursement for meals.
Jeffrey Boyce: Because all lunches were paid until then.
Josephine Martin: No. When the Act was passed in ’46 it provided for nine cents a meal, but the schools were required to serve all children without discrimination.
Dorothy Caldwell: But they really didn’t do it because they couldn’t. They didn’t have the money. There was no reimbursement for it.
Mary Nix: If they were a big family we served the younger children Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and the older children Tuesday and Thursday.
Jeffrey Boyce: Wow.
Josephine Martin: Or either, if you had a big family, rather than charging them the going price, you would say if you have five children in school it would be fifteen cents a meal rather than twenty-five cents a meal. And if you had four children in school it would be another price, so you had a graduated price based on the number of children. And then it was up to the principal of the school to determine what the eligibility standard was. It could be a very arbitrary thing. If the principal really felt that all the children needed the meals he could have a high standard for free and reduced-price meals. If he didn’t believe in feeding kids –and believe me there were ones who thought you shouldn’t provide free lunches, because that was socialism – they wouldn’t make any concession for that. But then in the early ‘70s we finally convinced Senator Talmadge, who was chairman of the Appropriations Committee, who did not believe in the School Breakfast Program, and this gets away from the Institute, but it’s hard for me not to tell it. I was the state director in Georgia and he was not in favor of the Breakfast Program because it was the responsibility of the family to feed the kids breakfast before they came to school. Now he was for the School Lunch Program but not the Breakfast Program.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: And that wasn’t consistent across the nation. In Tennessee it was different across the state. As long as that state is, there were that many differences in how the school meal program functioned – and the funding. And in Memphis in the early ‘60s those children who needed free and reduced-price meals didn’t get any meals. They could have iced tea, or nothing. We served 25,000 meals a year in that school system. The food service director had little tokens that she’d give sometimes for the kids that worked. And that’s how those children ate. So it wasn’t consistent across the country.
Dorothy Caldwell: Many of the kids did not get fed. Many, many of them did not get fed at all.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: If you had a good PTA, that PTA would do some things to feed children, but that was not consistent across the country. And as I said earlier, Georgia was more progressive than other states throughout the country. There were some school districts that didn’t have kitchens, so there was no way to feed children.
Josephine Martin: But see, back in Georgia now, we were different all along. When separate but equal came in, the Georgia General Assembly provided money for a HUGE building program so that we would have equal facilities, but separate facilities. And the little one-room schools that were the little black schools, were consolidated, and we had a HUGE building program in Georgia. And we built schools all over the state. And at that point I was an area consultant, and my job was changed from being what I was hired to do to working with the architects and the engineers reviewing plans. So for about four years I worked basically in school planning, reviewing all of the plans that came in, the equipment specs, working with architects and engineers. And some of the most famous architects in Atlanta were just out of Georgia Tech and they were building great schools – Portman, who built the Hyatt House and had gone international – I worked with Portman on designing schools, and it was great experience. And at that point I would review the specs that they sent in, and I would recommend to the architects that they provide stainless steel sinks rather than galvanized iron sinks. Provide 18/8 gauge stainless steel equipment. And finally the architect who was in charge said, “Jo, I don’t want any more ‘recommend’. These architects are hard-headed, and so you just write it in ‘provide’ 18/8 gauge stainless steel equipment.” And so we shifted back in like ‘72 to stainless steel equipment. So we had facilities in all of our schools so we had programs, good programs in all of our schools. We were probably the first state in the nation – I was not the director – but she was visionary enough to see that we did not know how to deal appropriately with the schools that were black, because they were separate but equal, and Georgia hired the first black state consultant. And Electra Wofford did a fantastic job. She could do things that no one else would do, like on competitive foods. They weren’t allowed in Georgia at that time. And Electra would go into the schools and say, “Do you have any competitive foods?” “Oh no Ms. Wofford, you know we wouldn’t sell competitive. We wouldn’t be in competition with the school lunch.” And when the school bus would come in to pick up the kids she’d go out and look on the school bus, and they had taken all the competitive foods from the school and put them on the bus until after she left. She could do things that the other area consultants could not do, but she did it. It was a real fight there in the early ‘70s, but – I don’t know how I got off on that, but that was one of the challenges we had in all of our southern states.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Right, and in northern states too.
Dorothy Caldwell: In the North too. You know, they had buildings that had no kitchens at all. Not only did they not have equipment, but they did not have kitchens.
Josephine Martin: And to get back to Senator Talmadge, Senator Talmadge did not believe in the Breakfast Program, and finally he said in like 1968, “I want to come to Georgia and talk to principals and teachers and superintendents and find out if the Breakfast Program is like Miss Martin says it is, that it’s important and it’s making a difference in education.” So we worked to set up a tour for Senator Talmadge to go from Macon to Atlanta visiting about three or four school districts and going into schools talking with principals and superintendents. And at the end of his last school in Atlanta he said to his legislative aide, “Mike, I want you and Ms. Martin to ride back to the hotel with me, and I am going to introduce a bill that will provide breakfast in all the schools.” He prepared that legislation in 1989-90, and it not only included the Breakfast Program, but it ultimately provided for the free and reduced meal eligibility standard nationally. It provided for separate money for free and reduced-price lunches and it also ultimately guaranteed them one day – the principals in Georgia would say to me – we had an appropriation – “We’re not going to start serving kids meals in September and have to tell them in January when the money runs out that we have no money and that we can’t feed them anymore.” And I just said, “Why don’t we guarantee to the principals that if they start serving economically needy kids in September that they will have money throughout the year?” “Josephine that’s crazy. You’re talking about entitlement. Nothing is entitlement except Social Security.” “Have you ever asked?” “No.” I said, “Why don’t we?”
Shirley Watkins Bowden: That was one of the other reasons that as we looked at the Institute, now you’re not only looking at school lunch, but you’re looking at school breakfast and summer feeding.
Josephine Martin: And child care.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: And child care. So now you have not one program but you’ve got four programs. And the training needs there were different to what they were for lunch. The needs for school nutrition personnel working not only in kitchens, but in management, so the Institute has another place in the life of school nutrition that we didn’t envision initially. Who knew when we started talking about this in the ‘60s and ‘70s that we would have all these programs at school for children, and the opportunities to feed children? We didn’t think about that as a part of that vision. But as these programs have come alive across the country the needs are different as to how they are to be managed and administered, so that’s another area of concern for school nutrition personnel.
Josephine Martin: And the good news that I learned from Katie yesterday was that now, and Dr. Phillips you’ll be interested in this too, we ended up with one National Advisory Council when I was here, and we would always have a representative of the Child Care Food Program on there. But the Child Care Food Program has grown so much, and it is so different from school lunch, that now since Katie has been here they have a child care council. They don’t call it an advisory committee, but the Child Care Food Program people that were on the advisory council said, “You know, you talk about so much that goes on in the school, and we’re one or two people here, but you don’t talk much about us, so we would like to have our own group.” And now they have their own group that meets independently of the school group, which is the big group. But the needs for the two are so different they need to be coordinated, but they’re not the same.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: But it’s interesting – when we talked about adding child care is when we discovered that those were soon to be school nutrition’s children as the programs grew, and child care had NO training and no one really working with child care agencies. When I started out as Deputy Under Secretary at USDA I’m like ‘What’s child care?’ – had no clue how massive that program was and the amount of money being spent on child care. And as I looked at it it’s like why would we not use the Institute to help provide some training for child care? At that time we were trying to figure out where have they been getting the training from? Who helps to administer this program? And here again they were all administered differently from state to state, one local program to the next local program. Many of them are in homes for the most part. And I mean no training, none, just nonexistent, but millions of dollars being spent in a program. So the needs were the same for them just as it was for a school program. This was a perfect fit for the Institute, a perfect fit, and provided something that many of us in school nutrition had little to no information about. But we knew those children were fed somewhere and at some point during the day. But here a need existed and no one to provide for those children. We thought if those children were started out in the right nutritional environment early, and maybe some of our people would have jobs in those institutions as well, however small or large they were, I think an unmet need the Institute met.
Josephine Martin: And I think at that point, I don’t think the legislation changed for the Institute, but at that point the Institute began to really look at training and develop what was going on in child care programs, because child care is not one program. It’s a monstrosity, still is and always will be, because you have your residential child care, which is more or less organized – more or less organized –
Shirley Watkins Bowden: More or less.
Josephine Martin: And then you have your family day care homes. I know in Georgia we just finally gave up. We said, “Let somebody else administer that whole program, because we can’t do that and the school program.” And that was another difference in the administration. In many states the administration of the Child Care Food Program and the Summer Food Program was located in an agency other than the state educational agency, whereas the school program was always in the educational agency.
Jeffrey Boyce: As you started lobbying as you said earlier for an institute was there any pushback? Were there any major obstacles you met or were there any groups opposed to an institute?
Josephine Martin: Yes there were. And even some of the state directors were lukewarm at the feasibility study, because they felt that USDA was sometimes heavy handed, and that if we had an institute that was under the auspices of USDA, even though it was at The University of Mississippi, and the contract was at Ole Miss, that USDA would be having the Institute come in and do the same kind of technical reviews and telling them what to do, and telling them when their money would be cut if they didn’t do certain things. So there were some state agencies that were afraid that it would just be an extension of the requirement that USDA has. FNS has that requirement to ensure that federal regulations are carried out, whereas the Institute has the responsibility under the cooperative agreement provision of Section 21 of the National School Lunch Act, the Institute has the requirement to do education and training and research, but no regulatory requirement. The Institute is a helping center, whereas USDA FNS has a regulatory requirement and schools and all the programs operate in a regulatory environment.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: When you talk about opposition, there was a great deal of concern from some of the colleges and universities that Ole Miss and Southern Miss had gotten this wonderful piece of the pie and they were afraid that it would not be shared. While they thought – the Cornells and –
Josephine Martin: Purdue.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Purdue.
Josephine Martin: Kansas State.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Kansas State and Penn State had certain skills that they had used, that they were THE premier universities for school nutrition, they thought that they would not have any opportunity for any of the funds. By and large I think it was a funding issue, and they wanted part of that funding stream. And it was a real hard sell to let them know how they might be able to interface with the Institute. There may be special contracts that may be awarded that they could bid on to participate in some of the research, even some of the training, the development of the training. And that was little a bit of a rub for those school nutrition people who lived and worked in those states and were more familiar with the caliber of training that was provided, or the caliber of education that was provided for nutrition programs – and a little bit of resentfulness on the part of Mississippi getting that money. But it finally worked out so they could get some of the funds for some training. Dr. Phillips worked with some of the institutions and helped to level off some of the ruffled feathers, smooth out some relationships. And I don’t know that we’ve heard anything from those institutions in recent years, after the first few years and they saw the caliber of work that Mississippi was able to do you just didn’t hear it anymore. That was one of the areas of real concern. And we had some state directors who were not happy, as Jo said earlier, about the Institute, and were not sure that they were going to even support it. And those people had to be made believers, and the first few years, I think, helped them to really understand that this could work. Oh, they’re going to take some of the responsibility away from us, and that’s good. We were doing a good job maybe, providing the training, with the exception of a few states. But by and large it helped those states.
Jeffrey Boyce: You said state directors. This was the state department of education?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: In the different states. Right.
Jeffrey Boyce: What was the political climate of the country during this time?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Well it certainly wasn’t like it is now. People talked to each other. People worked together on common interests. Our programs were not political. They did not have any political overtones. We just never heard child nutrition and politics in the same breath. There is no way we would have ever raised politics in relation to children, nutrition, and education. It just didn’t happen. We had giants, GIANTS working on these issues in the Congress, totally committed to children, totally committed to education, and doing the right thing for ALL children, poor children as well as those children whose families were not in financial need.
Jeffrey Boyce: Who were some of these people?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Oh, you had wonderful giants in McGovern and Dole –
Josephine Martin: Humphrey.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Hubert Humphrey, Jim Sasser.
Jeffrey Boyce: Did any of you have personal interaction with them?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Oh yes. You had Al Gore. You know, you could walk in their offices and sit down and talk to them about school meals and the need for children having a good meal in order to achieve in a classroom, the fact that those children came to us and they hadn’t had anything all weekend. And when they got to school they had a meal. And we worked to be sure that those children had nutritious food. We wanted all that a-la-carte stuff gone in our schools. And for the most part, those of us sitting here didn’t have a-la-carte food. We didn’t have the soda? machines and all of that stuff. We made sure those children had good, nutritional food. And when I sat down with Al Gore, Jim Sasser, and Harold Ford back then, they understood. Many of them related to those families, and they were in the community. We invited them into the schools. And as you heard earlier, we wanted them to come and eat breakfast. We wanted them to come and eat lunch, so that they knew the quality of the foods that we were preparing for the children. We had opportunities for them to not only come and sit down with us, but with the parents and the children. They then knew what our needs were when they got back to Washington. If any legislation came up they knew exactly what was happening in their district. They knew exactly what was going on. You couldn’t beat McGovern and Dole working together hand in hand – and sitting down talking with Marshall Matz. They had an open door to him, who was the lobbyist for the School Nutrition Association for over –
Josephine Martin: ’69 through last year.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: – over forty years, just working on those programs. And our help in strengthening from all the advocacy organizations that knew the programs and worked on those programs. FRAC[Food Research and Action Center], as we started working closely with them they knew what the Institute would do. They could go into any senator or congressman and say, “Here’s what they really need. We support this organization. We support the Institute.” They could share, and sometimes working with us, could share it better than we could, in a different way, because they saw families from another standpoint in their interaction with families and educators. And that’s how we got as much support as we got in working with congressional delegations – the strong partnership that was built over the years.
Josephine Martin: And the time – I recall one incident when the Senate Agriculture Committee was considering some of our legislation and there were several administrations that did not support – once in the mid ‘70s and then again in the ‘80s – when we did not have all the support from Congress. And at one point Senator Talmadge asked me to come up and meet with the Senate Agriculture Committee that was focused on the school nutrition program. And they said, “We normally have the Assistant Secretary to testify first, but this time we want you to testify first, so that he has to listen to you. And then we want you to come and sit at the table with us. And when he’s telling the truth you let us know, or you just don’t say anything. But if he is telling you just not exactly right, you just nod your head and we will know what to ask.” I mean we had that kind of rapport with the members of Congress. And one member of Congress that we have not mentioned and one committee of Congress that we have not mentioned that we could not have this kind of success without was the Education and Labor Committee of the House of Representatives, and Carl Perkins from Kentucky was the chairman of that committee. And Mr. Perkins knew firsthand about hunger in Kentucky. And he also knew about education and how education would help those children in the coal mining areas of Kentucky to come out of poverty. And if they were to get an education they had to be well fed. And he could see so clearly the connection between education and nutrition. And without Mr. Perkins we would never, we would never have gotten through. Now we had the money from Congressman Whitten, but that was a money issue, but the regulatory issue and the framing of the legislation, which was generally framed first in the House of Representatives, rather than in the Senate.
Dorothy Caldwell: And Congressman Perkins certainly had that. He’s the one who I recall seeing. I was sitting in the audience the day that he said, “What would it take to feed all the children?” And that’s his viewpoint, so it helps to have that when he was thinking about the Institute. He was thinking about quality and quantity.
Jeffrey Boyce: Just to put it in a historical perspective, what was the country going through in the ‘70s and the ‘80s that you remember, maybe some of the competitive things to founding an institute?
Josephine Martin: Well, I think in the ‘60s it was basically positive, because we had the War on Poverty. President Kennedy’s Secretary of Agriculture said, “Never let it said that we put a man on the moon in the ‘60s and didn’t put food in the mouths of hungry children.” He also established the first physical education person, Bud Wilkinson from Oklahoma. And Bud Wilkinson said, “It is possible to be well nourished and not physically fit, but it is not possible to be physically fit without being well nourished.” So that was the first time the two were connected. And then later on in the ‘60s we had President Kennedy’s untimely death, and then President Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society. So the ‘60s were great. We were getting about whatever we asked for in the ‘60s and the early ‘70s, up until the mid ‘70s when we had to change. It was after President Nixon left, and we had another president come in. That was the first rumbling that child nutrition programs might be cut, that the money for Section 4 might be in jeopardy. And at that point one of the members of the House of Representatives proposed that. There was another thing that Mary reminded me of as we talked. Chicago had a real problem, and it was a war on waste. And the Chicago Times had a HUGE headline about the amount of food that was thrown away from school lunch, and it was just an ENORMOUS national fiasco as far as school lunch.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Chicago and New York.
Josephine Martin: And New York. And then so some of the Reps in the House of Representatives started saying, “We’ve got to do something about this.” And that’s when the offer vs. serve provision came in that you would not require the kids to take all of the items on the plate.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: And questions were raised at a Major Cities meeting on the evaluations that we had to do when we went into schools, and why you couldn’t use – if you had tomato products – why you couldn’t use ketchup in the soup, and why if all the other vegetables were counted, why you could not use the tomato products – as an example – ketchup. Well, at that moment in time the Major Cities were a pretty powerful organization. That was literally the top fifty schools in the country. And Elizabeth Kagan was the director of food services in New York. She raised that issue and two or three weeks afterwards they came up with one of the ways to cut school nutrition programs, to make ketchup a vegetable. And that was a fiasco, and we still hear that today. And we wondered how they got ketchup out of that meeting and that conversation on that particular day.
Josephine Martin: And that within itself was a major issue within SNA. I remember sitting in the Legislative Committee and there were debates pro and con about should we support the proposal to make ketchup a vegetable or should we not, because the White House has proposed as making ketchup as a vegetable. And so it was an interesting time, but we won. Ketchup did not become a vegetable at that point.
Jeffrey Boyce: What was the argument for making it a vegetable in that meeting you just mentioned?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Well, the argument was that you’re using all of these vegetables, and we had to count all of the protein items and all of the vegetable items. And we were wanting them to increase monies for vegetables. We also were concerned that we had to count some things, but couldn’t count other things that you put in that soup. Soup was a BIG item for schools. Everybody had soup if they had a kitchen, because you could take everything at the end of the week, and all of that leftover food ended up in that soup pot.
Jeffrey Boyce: I’m glad you confirmed that. I always said that about my high school. That Friday soup day was everything that was left over from the week. It was great vegetable soup.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: The best vegetable soup. But you had those vegetables, and she just raised the question, “Why can’t we count the tomato products?” And that was tomato paste, tomato puree –
Dorothy Caldwell: But you could count those.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: But in some states you couldn’t count that tomato product as a part of the requirement. As we said, it was different across the country in what you could do. And she just raised it and of course it got to be the ketchup. It was the funniest situation to all of us sitting in that meeting with how they came out with ‘Well, ketchup would just be a vegetable.’
Dorothy Caldwell: If you talk to Ed Cooney he would tell you that he’s responsible for that hitting the papers.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Yes.
Josephine Martin: And I think one of the reasons that it was opposed is that if you put ketchup on a hotdog or you put ketchup on a hamburger, it’s such a small amount that you couldn’t count. So it was not enough because we were required to have a half a cup of fruit and/or vegetable every day. So the meal pattern required us to have a certain amount, quantity, and you certainly would not have that much ketchup. And I think that was another issue. It wasn’t necessarily the product as much as the quantity. But to just think that you’re going to take a teaspoon of ketchup and count that as a vegetable was beyond comprehension.
Jeffrey Boyce: Mary, I was reading over your oral history again yesterday and you mentioned something during your years as president about the ‘Wisdom of Williamsburg’ I think you said. Was that something to do about the planning of the founding of the Institute?
Mary Nix: Yes it was. It was a very strong recommendation out of the long-range planning seminar in Williamsburg that there should be some kind of institute or a central place for education and training and sharing materials. That was a very strong recommendation.
Jeanette Phillips: What year was that?
Mary Nix: 1980.
Jeffrey Boyce: And was there a committee formed, or what kind of action did you all take then?
Mary Nix: Well, we passed it along to the next president to put legs on it. That was the best we could do.
Josephine Martin: And that was the period – you asked about the state of society – that was when Jimmy Carter was president. We had the Middle East oil crisis and the shortages of gasoline and the prices of gasoline, and the nation was undergoing a national economic crisis in the late ‘70s, and in the early ‘80s when Reagan came in. And after the Wisdom of Williamsburg, that was during the Reagan administration, and ASFSA wasn’t asking for anything at that point. ASFSA was fighting the cuts for free and reduced-price meals, the equipment, the reimbursement rate. So we were fighting to survive, very similar to where we are today. And the crisis then was as hard as it is right now.
Dorothy Caldwell: Those major cuts in the early ‘80s I think were responsible in large part for the massive changes made in the menus around the country in schools. Partly was the waste that they were calling to our attention, but the kids were getting used to eating fast foods everywhere else, and why shouldn’t they just eat that at school? But partly that we should be making money in the schools to make up for some of the money that had been cut, by offering a-la-carte food. And there was a tremendous growth in that, which damaged the integrity of the school programs greatly in the ‘80s. So I think that was really major, major. And we’ve been fighting that ever since. And the nutrition integrity standards that the Institute – it really does have a connection with the Institute – I do find a way to put that in ‘most anything I say, but it does have a connection with the Institute because they worked so hard on those nutrition integrity standards.
Jeffrey Boyce: Well did those cuts in the early ‘80s really bring into light or put emphasis on the need for an institute, because that’s when school nutrition programs really became a business with all the drastic cuts, or am I wrong there?
Mary Nix: Is that when the nutrition education funds were cut?
Josephine Martin: No. Nutrition education was passed in ’77, and we only received full appropriation for NET for about one year. And then Congress started cutting, because again that was late ‘70s, and by the early ‘80s nutrition education funding was very limited. And the whole nutrition education program was finally repealed by a block grant program in ’95.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: But you got the cut – the fifty cent per meal – we never really got the fifty cent per meal per child.
Josephine Martin: No.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: We never really got that. The state agencies may have received more money but it was trickle down to the school district.
Josephine Martin: It was never fully funded.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Never, and trickle down, and that’s why again we thought we need an institute; if we’re not going to get the monies for nutrition education we need to do something. And I don’t think we ever, ever lost sight for the dream of the Institute. We never lost sight. Even though we may have gone through some rough financial times, it always stayed a part of that issue paper. Once it got on that issue paper it stayed until it was accomplished.
Josephine Martin: And as Shirley said earlier, during Jane’s and her years, when we were coming out of that horrible ‘80s, they looked around and said, “What can we do?” And that’s when they came up with ‘Let’s ask for a feasibility study’ about the Institute, and then the decision was made to ask ‘Where should we establish an institute in Mississippi?’
Shirley Watkins Bowden: One of the things that’s kind of interesting, and maybe we thought they’d never give us the money, and maybe it was a smart idea to talk about, don’t talk about the institute, talk about a feasibility study. People are more likely to respond if you’ve done a feasibility study. So if you’ve done your homework, maybe they’ll listen to you. So if we can say quietly, and if we can get just a little bit of money to do a feasibility study, we won’t ask any more for any money about an institute, because obviously you’re not going to get that. But a feasibility study might help us in the long run to get there.
Jeffrey Boyce: The first crack in the door?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: The first crack in the door. If you just crack that door for me, just a little bit, then we would have some evidence quite frankly that it’s needed.
Jeffrey Boyce: What did the feasibility study address? How did they determine the need?
Josephine Martin: The feasibility study indicated that there was a need for an institute, and so the feasibility study went to the members of Congress and USDA. Shirley Watkins Bowden: There was some concern, and so it really was necessary to do that feasibility study to bring it all together, and express what the needs really were, and how it could be achieved through a separate entity.
Josephine Martin: And in spite of that opposition and concern Congress wrote legislation the next year to authorize the establishment of the Institute. It did not provide any money but it did authorize the establishment of the Institute to improve the general operation of school nutrition programs through research, education and training, and delivery of information. That legislation identified about eight or nine areas that should be considered in developing education and training. And one of the things that legislation included was the development of a national network of trainers in order to carry the training out after the material had been developed. And so the authorization for the Institute came one year, but the first monies for the Institute did not come until the next year. I cannot recall how much that first appropriation was. It wasn’t much. I know it was authorized to provide $5,000,000. I’m sure your files show. We may have gotten $1,000,000 that year, no more than $1,000,000 that first year.
Jeffrey Boyce: I’ll have to look it up, but I want to say it was only half a million.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: That’s what I’m thinking.
Josephine Martin: I thought it was a half million, but I was afraid to say that. And we hardly had enough money to operate. Therefore, what we did that first year, we had some state directors who were very supportive of the Institute. And several of those state directors came to us and said, “We would like to contract with the Institute to develop training materials.” Right up front Mississippi contracted with us to develop a training program. The state of Kansas contracted with us to develop a training package. And the state of Oregon actually allowed us, because they were having difficulties spending their state administrative expense money, but they could contract with the Institute to take their SAE money to use it for Oregon purposes. So the Institute was a resource for Oregon, so they developed the needs in Oregon, and those needs were funded by money that Oregon sent to NFSMI to pay for their training.
Josephine Martin: Once the Institute was established and located at The University of Mississippi, the Institute was operated, and this is what Congress and this is what the Assistant Provost or vice-president that I reported to wanted, he said, “This is a state institute and I insist that we work closely with USM.” And to that extent every month, we had an old van, and all of the staff members from Ole Miss would hop on the van and we would go to Jackson. The people from USM would come up from Hattiesburg, and we would have a staff meeting in Jackson. And we have counted the birds on those telephone lines I don’t know how many times, because somewhere between here and Jackson the birds were always on the telephone posts, and so we did a bid on are they facing north or south?
Jeffrey Boyce: Now when you say a state institute you’re meaning it’s not just an Ole Miss institute. It’s located in the state, but it’s a national institute.
Josephine Martin: It’s a national institute and it’s operated cooperatively between the two universities.
And then we did have this, as Shirley mentioned, the other land grant colleges that really would have liked a piece of the pie. So early on we recognized, because we had worked as a team, and in our planning we had the research director and the assistant search director sitting down with us here in Oxford, and we would do planning together. When we were working on the satellite we brought in the distance learning person from Penn State and he worked very closely with us. We brought in other, like Kansas State, Deb Canner was working with us. So we tried to develop a collaboration, and that was the direction we were moving over three or four years at the Institute. That we would not have joint, but we would have collaboration with the land grant colleges throughout the nation to develop some regional ways of working together, to maximize the resources that we had here in Mississippi from those other universities. And we did get a lot of help from Penn State on that. And to me that was an important thing that we were beginning to do, and we were getting a lot of support from the other universities because of that.
Jeffrey Boyce: Talk a little bit about those very early days. Once you got that first funding how did you start determining your goals or your mission? What were the first things you were going to do? You mentioned Oregon and Mississippi and Kansas. What were those first – what did they identify as the most pressing needs?
Josephine Martin: The pyramid had just come in and we did Pyramid Pursuits in Kansas, a training manual for them. Mississippi had a well-organized training program, and we did an update on their basic training program for site-based school nutrition personnel. Oregon may have been financial management or administrative reviews. Whatever Oregon needed they just ran that through the Institute and it was paid for. We did have Jim Reeves, who was our financial director. And Jim Reeves was pretty resourceful in figuring out ways to do things for states. And he was most cooperative in working with states to serve their needs in whatever we could do and get a little bit of money. I think another thing at that point was that the Institute was authorized for five years, because Congress looks at all programs every five years, just like this year they’re looking at the 2015 Reauthorization Bill. At that time they were looking at reauthorization in 1994. The Institute was approved in ’89, so we had from ’89 to ’94 to demonstrate that there was a real need for the Institute. Otherwise that legislation would have died in ’94. It was the position of Ole Miss that we had basically four years to sell the Institute to USDA, to work to develop a good working relationship with USDA, to market the program as a national program to all the state agencies, to demonstrate that we were a friendly organization and customer focused. And that was one of our primary goals, to prove that we were customer focused. ‘We are here to serve you.’
Dorothy Caldwell: One of the ways that I remember that they proved that to a large number of people was at the School Nutrition Association Annual National Conference. They had a session that was particularly for the line people in the schools, the employees who were not managers necessarily. They could be managers, but they were not directors, and they were primarily the people who did the everyday work. And those were called BLTs, basic level training sessions. And at the first one of those that they had at the ANC they gave a copy of the DVD that they used that day to everyone who attended. Well the lines were LONG outside that room. They were not able to get everybody in and I think there was no doubt at that time that the Institute had met its market.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: One of the things we need to go back to is who helped design all of those, and how did the Institute come up with getting feedback and what was really needed at the local school districts before we got to the BLTs. The Institute had come up with several advisory boards, and those advisory boards were named –
Jeffrey Boyce: You’re getting into my next question. I was just about to ask you about the General Advisory Board and the Research, Education, and Technical Advisory Board, GAB and RETAB.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: OK.
Jeffrey Boyce: I understand you all were members of those committees.
Josephine Martin: As I understand, when the feasibility study outlined the responsibilities of the Institute there would be a general advisory board and a research, technical advisory board. And the Secretary of Agriculture would appoint the General Advisory Board, and the Chancellor would appoint the Research, Education, and Technical Advisory Board. Shirley, Betty Bender, the state director from Oregon, a member of industry, and a commodity man – those were the five members of the General Advisory Board. The General Advisory Board was to come up with the big picture and pass that on to the RETAB, and then the RETAB would develop the ideas that the GAB gave the RETAB. Shirley knows about what went on at the General Advisory Board meeting because she was there.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: And it was interesting. Here you were charged with providing the direction for the next level that was going to do the work, so we could look at the big picture of the training needs and where we thought it should head. And of course when it got to the next level, at that advisory board, was where they came up with all of the training needs. And I’ll never forget, one of the first things they put on the table was warehouse. And I’m like, “Time out. Warehouse? How many school districts in this country have warehouses? I think I’m the only person sitting in here with a warehouse. So we certainly don’t need to talk about warehouses. We need to talk about how you plan a training session and what kind of training sessions do we need, something that the average school food service worker, that manager, can use. We don’t need to be talking about any warehouses.” There may have been four school districts across the country that had warehouses, so you could strike that off right now. “Now let’s get down to the real issues. Do they know how to prepare sandwiches for 500 children in an hour? Those are the kinds of things we need to know. We need to know how to cook those green beans. Instead of them being brown we want children to realize that they are GREEN beans. So those are the kinds of things we need.” And we sat around the table, talked about – and these are with food service directors from around the country – talked about what do I need? What do you need? And how can we make if fun, entertaining, engaging, and educational?
Jeffrey Boyce: And this was the RETAB board?
Josephine Martin and Shirley Watkins Bowden: No, that’s GAB.
Josephine Martin: They were the big picture. And this was before Ole Miss had recruited a director, so Dr. Phillips was the acting director, and she organized the first RETAB meeting. And I think RETAB had about eighteen members. And when we got to Memphis or Holly Springs for the meeting, Dr. Phillips had identified Shirley to be the head of the education committee, the education work group at the RETAB meeting. Jeannie Sneed from USM was to head up the research work committee, and of all people assigned to head up the technical advisory committee was me, and I didn’t even know what technical advisory was – now Jim Miller was on that committee with me, and we spent most of our time talking about ‘What is technical advisory?’
But at that meeting Shirley and her group came up with ‘School nutrition people don’t have a lot of time. We need short training modules. We need 10-minute modules.’ And they called it –
Shirley Watkins Bowden: BLT.
Josephine Martin: The BLT, which you could use Dorothy’s name of it, or Breakfast/Lunch Training Module.
Dorothy Caldwell: Breakfast/Lunch.
Josephine Martin: Breakfast/Lunch Training, but I like your name of it too.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: And it became the Laverne and Shirley show [Laverne Hellums and Shirley Watkins Bowden] as we worked HARD trying to come up with creative ways. You know, people like FUN learning experiences, no different than what children enjoy, given to them as you know they would like. That’s what we did and we came up with several BLTs back then. And we thought ‘BLT. They’re going to think it’s a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, but they really, really enjoyed those. As Dorothy said, when those were finished and we got to SNA, and to say that this came from the Institute, people were ecstatic.
Dorothy Caldwell: And of course the other people had the opportunity to get the training modules as well, but if you came to ANC you got it FIRST! There was something about that that was [satisfying].
Josephine Martin: And Dr. Phillips and Carolyn Hopkins developed that first BLT, because by the time they had an executive director down here, that first BLT was well on its way because the conference was coming up like the next month.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: And we wanted to find things that we could hurry up and get out.
Josephine Martin and Shirley Watkins Bowden: We had to.
Jeffrey Boyce: So these were just 10-minute trainings?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Yes. And if they could be shorter then that was fine too; something they could put in a DUMB terminal back there so you could play it.
Jeffrey Boyce: Put in a WHAT?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: A DUMB terminal. It was a computer that you had in your office, but you had no control over it.
Dorothy Caldwell: No connection to anything.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: No connections to anything, and it was just a big computer sitting on your desk. You couldn’t program anything. It was all programmed in the technology center. It’s just this big thing sitting on your desk, but you had a computer.
Jeffrey Boyce: What did it do besides play the DVDs?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: That was about it. You could play the DVD and whatever was downloaded.
Dorothy Caldwell: CDs.
Josephine Martin: There were no DVDs or CDs.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Video tape.
Dorothy Caldwell: Video tape. My memory is too short.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Well, that’s because we now think BROADER now with technology.
Dorothy Caldwell: We do. We do.
Jeffrey Boyce: Dorothy, you were on that RETAB committee, right?
Dorothy Caldwell: I was. I was on the research part of that.
Jeffrey Boyce: What did you do?
Dorothy Caldwell: Well actually, we started right away talking about things that we would do with the nutrition integrity standards, that that was one of the things we were interested in and whether that was the way to go, or what we should do to focus on the a-la-carte issues in schools, and how many kids ate a really nutritious meal, and others ate whatever they could afford to buy. And we thought that was a real problem so we talked about that. That was my big thing. Of course there were other people on that research committee who had other ideas. And things came up early on about finance and about buildings. What kind of space do we need? About equipment. What kind of equipment do we need? All of those things needed to be handled by the research, and also they needed to do the research that was needed to do the training. Not just that we’d do food safety, but what about food safety do we need to do? That would come out of research. And so those were the kinds of things we talked about. It was a really good, big group, the RETAB was, but broken down into those different sections. And you got to the nitty-gritty of it. You had local directors who were there and they worked.
Jeffrey Boyce: Who chaired it? Do you remember?
Dorothy Caldwell: Jeannie Sneed did.
Jeffrey Boyce: In the early days – I keep running across the word ‘task.’ Is that how you defined things? Task 1 and Task 2. What was that? How did that work?
Josephine Martin: We had to do a state plan every year, and in the state plan you had tasks. The RETAB was very resourceful, and for a while we had the GAB and RETAB, but Shirley was on both. And the members of the RETAB began to be a little envious because Shirley was on the GAB and she had more authority. And when she worked with education, then education had more clout than the other parts, so they said, “If education can have a GAB member on their section, then we need to have a GAB member on the other two,” research and what have you. Well it ended up we said, “Why don’t we just do away with GAB?” And I don’t know that we had the authority to do away with it. We just did, and made it the General Advisory Board. And then literally the General Advisory Board would meet and they would give us directions about what was needed. And we listened to the General Advisory Board and then we converted that into a state plan that we submitted to USDA. And the way that had to be written up, we had different tasks to be accomplished each year within a specific timeframe. So that was the task outline, what we were going to do that year in research, education, and training, and technology transfer, because we still called it technology transfer for a long time, because that was the legislation, so we just kept that name.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: One of the things we have not talked about is what that Institute looked like in the early days.
Jeffrey Boyce: Tell us about that.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: A trailer. [Laughter]
Dorothy Caldwell: Well now first a house.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: We had a house and then we grew and we had to have a trailer. We came down here and we talked about THE INSTITUTE, where is THE INSTITUTE? And when we got here it was that house and then the next time we came down it was a trailer. And the trailer had been attached somehow so they could walk through to get to the trailer. So we laughed about that after we dug ground for the Institute and could envision what that was going to look like sitting on that hill. Well we said, “We’ve come a long way from that trailer.” And to see what we have now in a real building is very, very impressive. If you come on this campus I think you almost have to pass the Institute.
Jeffrey Boyce: If you go outside today and you look across the street you will see the trailer. It’s still being used.
Dorothy Caldwell: But for different purposes, but the house was the Home Management House and they were no longer using it for a Home Management House, so we got literally the leftovers at that point, but that was fine. We didn’t care. We didn’t have to pay for it.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: We had a building.
Dorothy Caldwell: We had a building.
Josephine Martin: We had a building. And we stayed in the Home Management House probably two years and we were really crammed in that. And we got a little bit more money every year so we could hire another person or so, and we finally ran out of space in the Home Management House. And the university did not like the idea of having trailers on campus. And when we went to the Chancellor – they did show us some other property on the campus that we could move into – but those of us who did the – and it was a team planning effort I would say. We did not do anything unilaterally. We did it as a team. We had a strong team in that Home Management House. And we decided collectively if we ever go into that building in the middle of the campus that is not adequate already, and it doesn’t have parking, and it’s going to be difficult, we will not ever be able to justify a building. So our other alternative was to ask the Chancellor to let us buy a trailer. So you know whose responsibility it was to go ask the Chancellor if we could buy a trailer. And the request to him was prefaced with, “Chancellor, we realize you do not approve of having trailers on the campus, but this is only temporary, because we are going to need a building down the road.” And he said, “I understand you’re out of space, but what I’m going to tell everybody is that ‘Josephine Martin came to Mississippi from Georgia dragging a trailer down here,’ so yes you can attach a trailer to the Home Management House.” And the next year we outgrew that and we added another one. And then we added another one.
Jeffrey Boyce: So you had a trailer park on campus!
Josephine Martin: We had our own trailer park.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: The National Food Service Management Institute Trailer Park!
Josephine Martin: And you know, we would try to recruit somebody, like for technology transfer, and do you remember Dr. Phillips, that PhD guy who came from Florida? I think his eyes got this big when he saw the Institute and the trailer park. And he didn’t respond. I don’t think he ever said he really wanted to come and work with us.
Dorothy Caldwell: It was a smart decision that you made though, because then you got those trailers out of there.
Josephine Martin: After that we collectively decided that now is the time that we need a building. And we sat down, collectively up here at Ole Miss and outlined what we needed to have and how much space we needed to have. And at that point it was my responsibility to go to the Chancellor and let him know that we thought it was time to ask for a building. And so I called his secretary and said, “I need to talk with the Chancellor,” after talking with Dr. Hoops. And his response was, “Can you meet me in Washington on May 8th or 9th? I am going to be there and we will go see Senator Cochran and ask him for money for a building.” We knew that there was money for such buildings, but it was matching money, and the Chancellor had already agreed that the university would come up with matching money. We had determined that we would need a building with about 33,000 square feet, and that it would cost approximately $6,000,000. So when we went to Senator Cochran the Chancellor just said to him, “Senator, you know the Institute has been here now for three years and we need space. And we would like to ask you to help us get some federal money.” And he just turned around to me and said, “Dr. Martin, tell him what we need.” We had again collectively determined, and I said, “We need a building with about 33,000 square feet, and we expect it would cost $6,000,000.” And the Chancellor said, “And we will meet the matching with Mississippi money.” And the Senator just turned around to his assistant and said, “Put it in the budget.” Just like that.
Jeffrey Boyce: And this was Chancellor Turner at the time?
Josephine Martin: Chancellor Turner, yes. And it was no big deal. it was just he said to his appropriation person, “Just put it in the budget.” And we expected to get the money in three years, $1,000,000 a year. So in the meantime we came back and we told the Vice-Chancellor who was in charge of property that we were going to have a building. So on a cold, rainy, snowy day Dr. Phillips and Jim Reeves and I met with that Vice-Chancellor and we went looking for property. And we staked out our property and made a homemade sign that said ‘Home of the Future National Food Service Management Institute’ on the hill, right outside here. And we got that piece of property. And in the meantime, on the way back to the Home Management House we got stuck. The Chancellor got stuck in a mud puddle. So anyway it was a very memorable day that we had the space and we had the money. And at one point the person that I reported to asked me – because I did not come down here to stay more than two years. I really did not. I was not going to move to Mississippi. And Dr. Phillips kept asking me to stay on and at the end of the fourth year I said, “I’m telling you now I’m leaving next year. I’m not telling anybody else, because there’s nothing like a lame duck, but at the end of next year I’m gone.” And so Dr. Hoops asked me what I wanted to accomplish while I was here. I said, “I want it to be a nationally recognized institute. I want to have money for a building. And I want to have a staff. And then I will feel that I have accomplished what I set out to accomplish when I came down here.” And to a great extent that happened. The only thing that didn’t happen, we had real difficulty recruiting staff to come to Mississippi, because they didn’t understand the opportunities, because at that point we still did not have a building. But we had the nucleus of our staff, and the people who were here from the beginning were Dr. Phillips, Jim Reeves, Beverly [Cross] was here when I came, and they were all here when I left. Wouldn’t you all agree that it was all for one and one for all? We had very little dissention. I won’t say we didn’t have disagreements, but everyone here was so committed to proving that it would work, because we had five years to get permanent reauthorization. And in 1994 we got the permanent reauthorization. And at that point I knew it was time – I had done all I could do. It was a challenging, wonderful five years, but it took its – it was challenging and wonderful.
Jeffrey Boyce: Dorothy, you and Shirley were serving on these advisory boards, but you were both back home working fulltime jobs, right?
Dorothy Caldwell and Shirley Watkins Bowden: Oh yes.
Jeffrey Boyce: How often did you meet with the advisory boards?
Dorothy Caldwell: It seems to me in the beginning we met twice a year.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: And that’s not much in the scheme of things. I don’t want to say this but I guess I will. Being workaholics, we thrive on working to do whatever is necessary. So while those were twice a year, you left here with assignments and things to do. You know as we’ve sat here all morning, we’ve talked about Dr. Phillips, but we owe a great deal of gratitude to her and Jim Reeves for all of the work that they did. And I know she had no clue what she was getting herself into at that point. We had dreams, and she came in to help us realize those dreams. And I’m not sure that many school food service people know the work that she did, the quality of the work she did, the dedication. And the real thing for all of us is that she loved Ole Miss and had worked on this campus, and you needed that kind of input, a person who lived here, lived and was breathing Ole Miss, knew where all the bodies were buried, knew how to get to those bodied to dig them up and recreate them to get stuff done for the Institute. And there’s no way you can help people really, really appreciate the woman behind our dream, and helped to make it a reality. She was priceless, just priceless.
Josephine Martin: And that was the reason – I would not have come down here without Dr. Phillips.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: You could see her moving around in a circle that was kind of unfamiliar for both Jim and Dr. Phillips. She’d been in the home economics side of organizations that supported what we did, but to come in and learn all these new people and hear all these crazy, wild ideas, and want to do training for the school food service folks, well that’s a whole new world.
Jeffrey Boyce: By satellite no less.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Yes, by satellite no less.
Dorothy Caldwell: We were fortunate that Dr. Phillips also already knew something about training because she had been responsible for a lot of the good work that was done in Mississippi schools, and so that gave her even more familiarity.
Josephine Martin: Ole Miss, under the Nutrition and Education Training provision of the National School Lunch Act, had the contract for nutrition education, to conduct nutrition education throughout the state in the summertime. So she had that contract and she had worked several years carrying that out. So it was totally unfamiliar to her, because she had a lot of the lingo from having worked with nutrition education and training, or the NET Program. And of course she was the education expert personified there.
Dorothy Caldwell: She knew her way around Washington, too, as I remember.
Dr. Phillips: Thank you for that.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Look, we couldn’t have done it [ without you].
Dr. Phillips: I loved every minute of it and every day I learned something new. It was a good experience and I had you all who knew what we needed to do. That was the thing about it. We knew it needed to be done, but we had you to tell us how to get there. So we would never have made it had you all not taken care of us. And you could have just sat around and not done anything –
Dorothy Caldwell: It’s not in our nature.
Josephine Martin: The advisory committee were a working committee. They gave the direction for us to go.
Dr. Phillips: It was the energy.
Jeffrey Boyce: We were talking about the different advisory boards, and you two both served on them Dorothy and Shirley, but you were also working fulltime at the same time. What were some of the first resources from the Institute that you used in your regular day jobs?
Dorothy Caldwell: I was at the local level when this first began, in a local district, so I didn’t use anything at that point, but when I moved to the state level that’s when we began to really take advantage of the facilities that the Institute had. We used it to train in our training programs that we had. We had district meetings at the time and we used some of the materials for that. We also encouraged people at the local level to use the materials that were available from the Institute. And then later we began to use some of our dollars to come to the Institute to do work. And the person who followed me in that job, Wanda Shockey, who you all know well, has just retired, but she worked very closely with the Institute, and continued to have good collaboration with the materials.
Jeffrey Boyce: Do you remember any of the first trainings, what they were, what the materials were?
Dorothy Caldwell: You know, I’m sorry. That’s lots of water under the bridge, and I have to admit I do not.
Jeffrey Boyce: What about you Shirley?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Well, interestingly enough, I had one of the only nutrition education training centers in the school district, two nutrition educators and two trainers for the staff, and we did staff training in Memphis. Oh gosh, literally after I was there a couple of years we set up a nutrition center. And today that nutrition education center is a part of the central kitchen in Memphis. And I guess with all of the changes that they made in the school district merging, Shelby County and Memphis City, last year they discontinued the training. But for over twenty-five years that training center was there. So we had lots of opportunity to use information from the Institute. And we also sent the training staff down here for training. So this served as a training ground for me to send staff to get training. And when I left Memphis the young lady that replaced me also was a trainer at the Institute until she retired from Memphis City Schools. And they still come down here to get some of the training information that is needed for the school system.
Jeffrey Boyce: How many food service employees did you have when you were there?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: When I was there we had 1,300 employees.
Jeffrey Boyce: Mary, what about you? What were some of the early materials you used from the Institute?
Mary Nix: Well, I helped develop some of the early materials.
Jeffrey Boyce: Well tell us about that.
Mary Nix: It was really fun, because the second BLT was called On the Road to Professional Food Preparation, I think it was. It was really fun to come over here and work on materials that were going to be ‘in the real world.’ Then I did a lot of training programs with them. Then I was involved in the Healthy Cuisine for Kids, which has gone on for twenty years almost. And we actually went into the schools with a chef and a nutritionist, and the nutritionist taught nutrition. The chef demonstrated healthy food techniques and then we took them to the kitchen and they actually prepared healthy foods using recipes that would demonstrate or help them use the techniques that the chef had demonstrated. It was really fun to do that, but I’ve done a lot of training with the training materials from the Institute.
Dorothy Caldwell: We sent some of our state staff to some of those culinary trainings. I believe the two they went to were in West Virginia. It seems to me that’s where it was.
Mary Nix: We had a lot of state staff people attend those trainings. It was designed as a module that you could go out and supposedly use this training module, like we had taught it, to teach others. So it was originally designed for state staff and key people who did training. It finally got to where they sent lots of other people. But it was really interesting to see the USDA people come out. They’d never seen inside a kitchen I don’t think. They knew absolutely nothing to try to prepare this food that the chef had demonstrated. And then we had to taste it and evaluate it. So it was really a complete package. You could use one module or you could use all five of them, so that it really has been a super program.
Jeffrey Boyce: What was Barely Bear?
Josephine Martin: Barely Bear was something that was developed by the Institute before I got here. Beverly was very much involved in the development of Barely Bear.
Dorothy Caldwell: Speaking of Beverly, Beverly Cross is I believe the only employee of the Institute who was in the original hire. And she has moved through the channels and done really wonderful work. She has done a great job everywhere she has been it has seemed to me.
Jeffrey Boyce: Well Shirley, you have even another perspective of working with the Institute. Tell us about going to USDA, how that came about, and then after that what you relationship with the Institute was.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Interestingly enough, as president of ASFSA, now SNA, I got a call from Marshall Matz, who says to me, “Would you be interested in working at USDA as Under Secretary, or Assistant Secretary?” And I was like, “That is SO FUNNY. That is hysterical. You’ve got to be kidding.” And that’s when Dukakis was running. I thought ‘There is no way. You know that they have never hired anyone who had programming experience, so that won’t happen.’ And we laughed. And then when Bill Clinton was running – obviously Dukakis lost – and when Bill Clinton was running he asked me again. And we were in Minnesota at the School Nutrition Association annual conference, and he asked me again. And that was really hysterical. I said, “You talked about this before, and you know that is not going to happen.” He said, “Well, just think about it. What if he wins? What would you say?” And I laughed again. And my family and I had driven to Minnesota for that conference. And when we left there he had said, “You need to ask your family, because I think this thing is going to happen. I think Bill Clinton is going to run, and Al Gore is going to run with him. He’ll be on the ticket. And I thought ‘That’ll never work.’ We still laughed. And on the way home I finally mentioned it to my family, which I had not done. And this was in July, and I had a daughter that was a senior in high school. And she was the first female to be president of her senior class. They had never had a female at that school as president. And I thought ‘There is no way I am leaving my child, and I know this isn’t going to happen.’ Well in November it did. And the questions were really, really being asked. And by the time we got to the inauguration it was like ‘You must come to the inauguration and you must go on the Hill. Now is the time to get this done.’ And my family had finally agreed that ‘If you want to do it we’re ok.’ So this rocked along, and we made calls to everybody, and made visits, trying to get myself known. They knew me as president of the ASFSA. Many of the congressional people on the Ag side knew me, so it was a matter then of just talking again. And as it got closer and closer and closer to January they finally called and said, “I don’t know if you’re going to make the Assistant Secretary. That may go to Ellen Haas. But would you be interested in still coming and working as her deputy?” And I thought ‘Ha!’ It got even funnier. Ellen Haas and I had had some interesting conversations and when I was president we were on Geraldo’s show together. And of course she was adamantly opposed to french-fries in schools and anything else that we did, she was adamantly opposed. And she and I had several confrontations that were interesting. So it took a lot for me to decide that I would go to Washington and work beside her, and they thought ‘Well, I think you guys would be fine.’ And we finally decided. Graduation was in May, and of course I had to get my daughter off to college. And when I took her to school in August I called back and said, “I’ll do it.” And the rest is history. An awesome experience – I never worked so hard in all my life, but I never worked any job that I enjoyed as much as I did making, and hopefully, writing programs and helping with policy decisions for the benefit of children and families in the country. I learned an awful lot; saw some awesome programs across this country, and maybe made some impact, or helped with the impact for children and families. When I got ready to hire staff when I was made Under Secretary and confirmed, the first call I made was to a food service director in Arkansas who had become the state director, and I asked if she’d like to come and work with me, and she said, “I don’t know, maybe.” And then she said, “I think I would. When?” I said, “Next week.” And she said, “You are crazy. Are you serious? Next week?”
Dorothy Caldwell: Two weeks, she’s forgotten.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: I said next week and you were like, “I don’t think I can come next week,” but she did come and work with me and Dorothy was a tremendous asset.
Jeffrey Boyce: You went to D.C. in ’93, and then Dorothy came aboard –
Shirley Watkins Bowden: She came aboard in ’97. I stayed there with Ellen two years, and I told them I was heading back to Memphis, and they said, “We don’t think so. Where are you from?” I told Dan Glickman I was born and raised in Hope, and I had lived in Memphis since I graduated from college. And he said, “We’re not letting you go, so we’re going to find some place to put you.” And that was interesting, because they moved me to Marketing and Regulatory Programs, and that included the responsibility for APHIS, Animal Plant Health Inspection for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, and GIPSA, Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards. Then that gave me a combination of the Ag side of the house and the consumer and nutrition side of the house, which was a wonderful blend. I had an opportunity to do some things on the Ag side of the house that we never thought we could build relationships [with], and particularly in Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards. The real benefit on my being over in AMS was the fact that they had never worked with, even though they bought the food for the Commodity Distribution Program, but they had never worked with FNS. And to be able to get those two agencies to work together, rewriting the specifications for food products that hadn’t been re-written since the first, since the very first, I mean the VERY FIRST guidelines. So if they were buying eggs, or buying beef, none of those specifications had been changed in all those years, from the beginning. And getting them to work together – and they always tested the food. And I’m like, “I don’t think so. You don’t eat the food, and your taste buds are not the same as those of children.” And for food service workers, they never even realized who was preparing the food. It just meant that they were buying food, and this is what the specs said, that we wrote in 1947. So that was major re-write in getting them to start looking at it. And they went to their first SNA conference. They were blown away when they went to that conference and came back and realized what they needed to do for ALL of the specifications. And then they stopped the age long process of testing the food themselves, and they opened it up so they could not only test the food with children, but then they would reach out across the nation and see, ‘What are the food preferences? What would you like, rather than I’m buying this.’ So that was an awesome experience for me, and to bring that back when I – Ellen Haas left, and of course I went back to FNS, and just had all kinds of ammunition at that point. Let me just get some partnerships going and work collaboratively without any, any disagreements on any parts. And of course the inspections that we did, and also the sanitation that was involved, the humane killing of animals was very interesting, and getting all of those experiences meant a lot when I went back.
Jeffrey Boyce: What were your biggest challenges in that position?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Oh, gosh. Trying to get my arms around a smaller piece of vast programs that we could implement, and something that I thought I really, really enjoyed. And bringing the staff along with program changes that they may not have been quite as excited about. But Dorothy and I knew what we wanted, and she brought in program people from states, either directors or nutritionists. So we kind of stacked the deck on people by bringing in all of these folk who had had program experience. That was amazing. And I guess the biggest challenge for me was to help the staff understand the program, because many of them had really had no experience in the program, and were adamantly opposed to making any changes. The biggest thing that I think we accomplished was to do a strategic plan with a focus that would push those strategies down so far in the organization, it would be very different for somebody to come in and change it. Because we pushed it down to the lowest level in the organization. And we wanted them to feel good, that these were their ideas, because they did the strategic plan, under the direction of the administrator. And we didn’t see any changes at all during the first Bush administration, and I don’t know that there were many changes made after his second term. Childhood obesity was still there as an issue. We raised that as an issue. They didn’t do anything necessarily with it, but it was still on their strategic plan. And to say that we could develop a plan that would last that long with everybody’s input, and while they didn’t like at first that we raised the issue of childhood obesity, they didn’t change it. It felt good. They were seeing some real positive things come out of it. So it was there and it was theirs. It wasn’t Shirley Watkins’ and walked out the door when I walked out the door. It was now their plan. They had all the buy-in. And we still talk about it today.
Jeffrey Boyce: What was your relationship or interaction with the Institute during that time while you were Under Secretary?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Well, we were helping them in any way we could, because then it was about funding, and trying to keep that funding there. I had several meetings with Senator Cochran about the value of the Institute, so it was hoping that we could keep it alive, and whatever we needed to do we did just that. When we got to the Department I’m not sure Ellen really was that ecstatic about the Institute. I don’t know what her real feeling was, but she didn’t attempt to destroy it, which was a good thing. And my whole position was not to lose it; that we do whatever is necessary to get the funding. And when I came down to ‘dig up the dirt’ for where the new Institute was going to be, and had my own shovel, that was probably one of the highlights, for me, for the Institute. I knew it was real then when we dug the dirt for the Institute on that hill.
Jeffrey Boyce: We have the video.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Oh do you?
Jeffrey Boyce: I can show it to you.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Oh my goodness! That was a lot of fun. So to realize that was going to happen, and then after, I guess we had gone out when I came back for the celebration once the Institute was finally open.
Jeffrey Boyce: The building dedication.
Shirley Watkins Bowden: Right.
Jeffrey Boyce: We have that video too. Dorothy, tell us about your experience with USDA.
Dorothy Caldwell: Well, as Shirley said, I said, “Yes, I would love to come.” I had by that time retired from the school nutrition director in Arkansas. Somebody said that I had done that because I knew this was coming along. That was not true, totally. But it’s really great to work with someone who shares your vision, or whose vision you share. And I had that with Shirley. We knew what we both believed and what we thought we could accomplish, and so we didn’t have to decide. There was not a lot of talking about what we’re going to do. And it was a very good experience to be able to work with someone who trusted your judgment, and said, “Go do it”, and you tried your best to do that. She believed as I did in the value of partnerships – she mentioned that already – that we never can do everything ourselves, and if we want things to work well we have to get other people to help us do it. And so we did a lot of partnership building that year. One of the things I liked doing the most I think was working with the medical community, which was new for me. I’d worked with a lot of education communities, and we did that that year, but we also got together ten, I believe if I recall correctly, medical organizations and got them to talk about what school nutrition standards should be, and that kind of thing. And if I recall correctly we had that release at the National Press Club, which was kind of nice to be able to do that, and say, “This is something we worked on.” We did Changing the Scene, which I have seen in schools throughout the country, and was done with the help of a lot of different people, in education programs primarilyWe did a lot of work with the Center for Disease Control [CDC]. That had not been done before, and we had their staff come up. We went down there to have meetings and talk about ways we could do some things that were helpful. So I would say I guess the most important thing was the partnership building. That was what I enjoyed the most about it.
Jeffrey Boyce: What was your biggest challenge?
Dorothy Caldwell: Prioritizing. There always was more to do than you wanted to do, and especially if someone would call and say, “I can’t go to XYZ. Can you go?” when I had plans to do PQR that day. But I always did it and I always loved doing it. It was always good to get out and to see people and to listen to people, which was something that Shirley was very, very strong on. When you go to a place to make a talk, making a talk is one thing, but listening to people is really why you’re there.
Jeffrey Boyce: Ok. Now I’d like each of you to tell me what you think are the most significant things this Institute has done so far. What are the biggest accomplishments?
Mary Nix: I think Healthy Cuisine for Kids. It’s the biggest contribution I made, because that just was so good to teach folks how to do healthy meals, how to cook healthy food and then see them enjoy it.
Jeffrey Boyce: Dr. Martin?
Josephine Martin: That’s really a hard question. I think I would look at it more globally, and I think the most important is that it is a nationally recognized center now, and it is the go-to place for nutrition education, research, and materials. And that over these 25 years we have been able to accomplish that in spite of adversity, in spite of economic conditions, but our vision, our mission for the Institute has not changed, and our legislation has grown significantly over the years. When I looked back at the legislation as it was that first year and then I compared the current legislation – 2010 – it has been added to, but nothing has been taken away. Every one of the reauthorization periods has added more and more responsibility to the Institute, all the way from the eight or nine initial responsibilities for training; I think the first one that was added to that was food safety, because when the Institute was started food safety was not a big issue. But in one of the reauthorizations food safety was added. And then of course the dietary guidelines responsibility was added. The legislation was solid and firm. And every word, to my knowledge, that was in that original legislation is still there. New words have been added, but nothing has been taken away. And to me, to have a piece of legislation that has existed in spite of economic ups and downs and to see the continuing increase in funding from $500,000 a year to $5,000,000 is a dream come true, because when IHL filed the report on the feasibility study they said you would need $5,000,000 a year. And in 2010 I think that’s when it went to $5,000,000 a year. So I think it’s just the big picture. I think the other exciting thing is that some of those things that were started in the RETAB, back at that first meeting, the signature items like the Breakfast/Lunch Training Module have basically continued, because when you look at that display on the board out front of the BLTs. And then you have the Healthy Cuisine for Kids, where we developed the relationship with the Culinary Institute of America. And the Institute, to my knowledge, was the first one to develop a relationship with a culinary group, and to point out that we need to improve the quality of food programs that were served. And so we brought in some of the best chefs in the nation to work with us , as Mary said, the Healthy Cuisine for Kids. And then another signature that went on for a long time, Dorothy was very much involved in it, and it was an onsite program called Nutrition Update, because the nutrition educators across the country had said, “We don’t have time to go back to school and get up to date on nutrition, but what we want the Institute to do is to regularly offer a nutrition symposium where you would bring in the best of the best, and then our nutrition educators could come in and update their nutrition knowledge.” And Dorothy was very much involved in that and coordinated a number of nutrition update programs for the Institute. And then finally of course reaching out through the satellite seminars, and being recognized very early on as a force in distance education, beginning with the satellite training. All of those signature items that began those first two and three years are still – they’ve been modified, they’ve been transformed, but they’re still there. They’re all still there, and to me that is very exciting. Those are the things that make the difference I would have to say, to go from the Home Management House to the trailer park to this beautiful facility that has this kind of technology and all its offerings – I mean it makes cold chills to think of where it was that first day that I came down here. And I came on the plane, and Dr. Phillips had preserved her 1963 four-door Cadillac, and I didn’t have a car so she let me borrow her baby blue Cadillac, and I drove all up and down, and I’m sure people would say, “Who is that woman in Dr. Phillips’ Cadillac?” And it was fun to go from that to where it is today. It’s just overwhelming. The other one thing would be to see how research has been transformed into education, and that education is now being delivered – all the hits on the website – is being delivered to people that would never have had the opportunity for some of the training. And now one of our dreams early on was that we would have trainers in every USDA region, and now that system has been set up, and so now we have a regional training center and a cadre of trainers in each of the regions. So it’s pretty humbling to see how far it has come in 25 years, but it’s also even more humbling to think of all of the effort that’s gone in, and the support that we have had from the members of Congress. Never has there been any question about whether or not the Institute would continue, to my knowledge. It’s been ‘What more can you do to help us?’ So that’s it, and I’m just so happy that I had a small part, and when the Chancellor said to me, “I want you to come down and help us get this thing off the ground. Come and stay a year or two years or as long as you want to, but just promise me that you will come down and help us get it off the ground.” And it got off the ground and here it is.
Jeffrey Boyce: Shirley?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: What’s the question? [Laughter]
Jeffrey Boyce: What do you see as the most significant contribution of the Institute so far?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: We dreamed of having a first-class training center for the wonderful school nutrition people across this country. That was the dream. We wanted to have the best trained staff in every school district, bar none. And today sitting here and spending time looking at the accomplishments, listening to the accomplishments, it’s probably the most fascinating thing of my career, knowing that you had just a small role to play in that, but a lasting legacy for school nutrition programs, to make them better. Coming down here and being here for the opening, I thought ‘How fascinating is this? How exciting can this be?’ And today I am like overwhelmed with the accomplishments of the Institute. We all can sit here and say, “Wow, we had just a little bit to do with that.” But just think it would be here, and will make even greater improvements, and will move with the times, whatever’s going on – to think that we moved from that big satellite, and today the technology is amazing, and what we’re able to deliver to school districts in small towns, rural areas, and big cities, and be accepted in all of those areas and be able to provide significant training that people would no way be able to afford, or be able to get in a school district – this is more than just a dream come true. And I know they will make even greater strides because you’re keeping up with all the new technology and training delivery. It will be amazing to see it in another 25 years, 50 years, and see what is going on in 50 years. I know people will be better off as a result of the Institute. And I don’t know that I can focus on any one thing, because there are so many things going on. And I guess the sweet part of all of it is that you’re still involving people around the country, not only to receive the training but to provide the training, to assist in helping write the training modules, and have input on the type of training that’s needed, and then see it actually come alive. And that you’re up to date on the kinds of training – to see people in the kitchen today doing training videos that can be sent out in a moment’s notice, that will update them on whatever the changes are in this country going on with all of the kinds of diseases, and you never know what else is coming up. But that you have the capability to do that is absolutely amazing. And I think the staff needs to be congratulated. It’s not a lot of people who keep up with what’s going on and what the new trends are. But to see the Institute not staying stuck in one mode of training delivery is amazing.
Jeffrey Boyce: Dorothy?
Dorothy Caldwell: I had a list of things I would like to say at this point. And I started marking them off as somebody else said them. But the first thing I wrote though was staying power, which I do think is probably our best thing, because the best laid plans of mice and men, the best of thee that might have been, and this is not a ‘might have been’. This is the real thing. We made the plans, we worked the plan – you all did. We made the plans – you worked the plans. And that’s really the thing. And some people have mentioned, in fact Shirley did just as I was saying, it’s really that they kept involving the people at the local level –
Shirley Watkins Bowden: That’s because I read your writing. [Laughter]
Dorothy Caldwell: How many times have we been down here on task forces, the advisory committee, the RETAB, the other? – come down for task forces on any number of things, come down to teach, come down to do whatever that we could do. But you’re still doing that, and you’re doing it with different people, you know. You’re not doing it with the same old ones who’ve always done it. You’re doing great things in that regard. The only thing I guess that has not been mentioned is the $5,000,000 that was originally said that we would need, you know $5,000,000 then and $5,000,000 now are not the same thing. So we can’t stop here. We’ve got to get more than that $5,000,000. If it took $5,000,000 to make the Institute great then, then we need seven. I don’t know what the rate is these days, but we certainly need more. You’ve done a great job. You all are just to be commended in my view.
Josephine Martin: I made a note when Shirley and Dorothy were talking, that to me one of the outstanding things, that it is a work in progress. It is a work in progress. It’s not complete and it never will be complete, because we’re in a program that is constantly changing, and the Institute has been able to change as the program has changed. The staff has changed as the program has changed. And so it is a work in progress and will continue to be. For example the orientation program for new and aspiring directors. There was a need; there wasn’t any training for directors across the nation, and so we started the program for new and aspiring directors, that has continued to grow and change like everything changes. It’s a metamorphosis. It’s not the same.
Jeffrey Boyce: That’s an excellent segue into what the last two questions are going to be. I want you to think about them. We’re going to take a short break. I want to tape you each individually now and the two questions I’m going to ask are ‘What does the Institute mean to you?’ and ‘What are your hopes for the future of the Institute?’
Jeffrey Boyce: What does the Institute mean to you?
Josephine Martin: The Institute means to me truly a dream come true, because I remember sitting there with a group of my friends in Sapphire Valley and dreaming of what the needs were for the child nutrition program would be. At that point we didn’t know what the child nutrition programs would be because they had not expanded to the extent they are now. But our dream was that we would have a central center somewhere in the country that would provide education and training and research for child nutrition programs. And that is a dream that came through, even though it has taken a number of years, from 1971 when that dream was first verbalized, until we are here today in 2014. So it is a dream come true. However, it is not a dream that is finished. What it means to me is that it is an evolving institution. It’s a work in progress – that we will continue to see the program of the Institute modified year after year to meet the needs. And while we have any accomplishments in the first twenty-five years, that laid the foundation for the future of the Institute. And so what it means to me is, as has been said earlier today, it is a legacy of the pioneers who dreamed of a child nutrition program that would meet the needs of all children. And in order to accomplish that we have to have education and training and research. So basically I think that sums up what it means to me. Personally what it means to me is that it was an opportunity that I thought I would never have, and I never dreamed when I retired from the Department of Education that I would de anything except be retired and have a good time, and do all those things that I wanted to. I did not want to work anymore, but then I came down here thinking I would stay no more than two years, but I caught the fever. But I could not stay but after four years I felt that I had accomplished those things that I could accomplish and would like to turn it over to someone else.
Jeffrey Boyce: What are your hopes for the future of the Institute?
Josephine Martin: My hope for the future of the Institute is that it will continue to grow. I would like to see this facility that we have fully used. Now I don’t know if you’re currently using all the space upstairs or not, but we dreamed when we asked for a 33,000 square foot building that we would be able to fill all those offices that we had upstairs, and you may have filled them by now.
Jeffrey Boyce: We have.
Josephine Martin: You have? I hope – my dream for the future is that if additional space in needed, that you will have that space. But my hope for the future is that the Institute will stay customer focused. That it will meet the needs of child nutrition personnel – all of the programs – child care, school lunch, summer food service programs, all over. My hope for the future is that it will continue to be an integral part of The University of Mississippi, because it is very important for the Institute to be recognized by universities, but it’s also very important to the people who use the resources of the Institute to know that it is university connected. We will continue to have a lot of people who have not had an opportunity to a university. And right now when those site-based people, the managers, the food service workers, the safety people come on campus they are very proud to go home and say, “I went to the National Food Service Management Institute at The University of Mississippi” because their teachers go to summer school. Their teachers take off-site training at universities, and it gives them a feeling of pride to know that they too have a university connected program that they can go to. And in the final analysis this Institute is really for the people who serve the children on a day to day basis. Now the rest of us, you might say in a school nutrition organization or child care, we support those people who serve the children every day, because it is in their hands that the future of the child nutrition programs is. And so my hope is it will continue to be recognized as a part of a major educational university, as The University of Mississippi.
Jeffrey Boyce: Thank you.
Jeffrey Boyce: Mary, what does the Institute mean to you?
Mary Nix: Well, coming from a local school system it means that I have training available. That’s extremely important when you have to think about feeding kids every day and you just don’t have time to develop training programs. So to me it means training for everyone, available to everyone.
Jeffrey Boyce: What are your hopes for the future of the Institute?
Mary Nix: Well, I would hope that you continue to keep up with the trends and offer training, even expanding the training by the electronic media, because that’s the up and coming thing, realizing that there still may be a few people that need a little media print for training. But I think that you’re doing an excellent job in keeping up with the trends and with the electronic transmission of information.
Jeffrey Boyce: Thank you.
Shirley Watkins Bowden
Jeffrey Boyce: Shirley, what does the Institute mean to you?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: The Institute is an opportunity to provide training, education, and research for those people who would less likely be able to afford that training, not only individuals but for school districts whose budgets are stretched, and they can’t afford to provide ongoing training for staff. One of the most successful training opportunities is to be able to get up to date information without having to leave your school district. And it’s training that has been researched, and that is so, so special for school districts around the country. You have consistency in training, and that material has been developed specifically for school food service staff. It’s not something that has been planned or developed for some other facet of the food service industry, but specifically for school food service. That’s something we’ve longed for, and to have that kind of technical assistance available for the hundreds of thousands of children being the recipients of that kind of training is just amazing. And to know that the Institute, our Institute, designs specifically for school food service is one of the most remarkable things that could happen for our industry. It’s a little bit like having your own doll as a child in a big family, and you have your own special toy, that’s what the Institute means to me. We have our own special training designed specifically for us, research based. Who would ever have dreamed that we would be able to afford that kind of training? I think one of the significant pieces that the Institute has brought to this industry – not only are we using the training materials, but training materials available bilingual, which is very, very special. Our country is changing and we have all kinds of families now using the programs. Families that don’t speak English, but can get that training material and information. And as our programs change and our cultures change and as we bring different people in who are from all over the world in many communities. And to know that we can provide that access is almost like a miracle to have that kind of opportunity. And that’s what the Institute means to me, that we can provide training for everyone. Those people who have limited skills, training is available for them as well. Who knew when we dreamed about an institute that this was going to be possible?
Jeffrey Boyce: What are your hopes for the future of the Institute?
Shirley Watkins Bowden: I’m just optimistic that it will always be here for many, many years to provide that extra help that we need to make sure our children have the best food possible, served in the safest environment. That our employees can feel good about themselves, that they are making a difference in a child’s life. That everything that they do every day is all about the children – that’s my hope.
Jeffrey Boyce: Thank you.
Jeffrey Boyce: Dorothy, what does the Institute mean to you?
Dorothy Caldwell: You know, the Institute means different things to me every time I think about it. It means a dream first, that I thought it would happen someday. And then it means a place that we could get together and plan how we could make that dream come to life, because in those early days we did come together and talk about what could we do as individuals to help the Institute become a reality. It means a place that I could use some skills I had to facilitate, or do some training for the Institute. It means a place that could provide training for my employees when I was a local director, and even more when I was a state director. It means a place that we can come back together and celebrate what has been accomplished over the years, both our work in it and the work of many wonderful employees that have come onboard, and some of them who still remain here today. So it just means a lot of different things, but I think it means first and foremost for me a place that I know is going to always be focused on the children, and is going to do what we can do to make school meals better, and what children eat today and tomorrow better. It’s a wonderful place and I’m so glad I’ve been a part of it.
Jeffrey Boyce: What are your hopes for the future of the Institute?
Dorothy Caldwell: I hope the Institute is very different in the future. That doesn’t mean I think it’s not good today. I think it’s wonderful today, but I think no plan however good lasts forever. The world is change and we’re going to need to do things differently. And I have no doubt that the Institute’s going to change. I don’t know what will need to change, but I know that it will need to change. And I think the people here are responsive to that, and I know that you all will focus on what needs to be changed and you will move with the speed of the gazelle to make the changes that need to be done.
Jeffrey Boyce: Thank you.
Dorothy Caldwell: You’re welcome.