Description: Nancy Miura is a retired school food service manager and a past-president of the Oahu School Food Service Association, having served several terms as president of the Oahu association. Nancy remains very interested in child nutrition and continues to attend the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conventions, along with Peggy Nakamoto, another Oahu School Food Service Association past-president. Peggy Nakamoto is a retired school food service manager and a past-president of the Oahu School Food Service Association. Peggy is very interested in child nutrition and continues to attend the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conferences.
Josephine Martin: Nancy, you had some more ideas you could share with us.
Nancy Miura: Yes. When I was in the elementary school, I mentioned that we didn’t have a lunch program. However, when I was in the second grade, I remember the teacher opening cans of tomatoes, you know, solid-packed tomatoes.
NM: And dishing them out in aluminum cups so we could all have some. And I’m sure this must have come from the federal Commodity Program if they did have a program at that time. And this was in 1942-43. We also were served pork and beans. I’m sure it wasn’t vegetarian beans. And because our lunch consisted of rice and Vienna sausage, or rice and Spam, I enjoyed the pork and beans and tomatoes so much. We also were served powdered milk reconstituted. Of course, we all had to hold our noses and drink the milk.
JM: Fresh milk was not available?
NM: We could order fresh milk in the bottles, half-pints. And the dairy would deliver the milk and put ice on top of the crates. We had to buy it. But I appreciated Commodity tomatoes and pork and beans.
JM: Well, the Commodity Program has been an extremely valuable program all these years, even before the state departments of education took over the program, before the National School Lunch Act was passed. What else do you remember about those really early days? Did you have a cafeteria or did you eat in your school classroom.
NM: In the classroom, in the classroom. We didn’t have too much as a family, and I envied my girlfriend’s lunch because her dad worked in the community plantation store and she could have hotdogs and I would just have Vienna sausage. I suppose Vienna sausage, and Spam, and hard-cooked eggs, that was about what we had. And we had vegetables. My parents raised vegetables.
JM: So you had nice fresh vegetables and fruits always?
NM: Not necessarily fruit. Just vegetables, fruit, we had fruit for Christmas, and special holidays. But, at the same time, we had soda only for Christmas and New Years.
JM: Oh, really?
NM: Yes. You know, we didn’t have those extras.
JM: So, it was very special for you to have soda?
JM: And special to have fruit?
NM: Yes. But banana were available. My parents raised bananas.
JM: Did they raise any other fruit?
NM: I think bananas and a lot of vegetables.
JM: Sounds good. Peggy, what kind of food did you have when you were growing up?
Peggy Nakamoto: I’m a city slicker.
JM: You’re a city slicker?
PN: So we had food in our refrigerator all the time. Both of my parents worked and we always had food available for us. We didn’t have too much candy, so we couldn’t eat candy when we were small. We were not allowed to have candy, I should say. We always had food available for us at home to eat. When we got home we would have fruits or canned juice, or something like that. My grandmother took me to a dormitory when I was much smaller, when I didn’t go to school. She worked at a dormitory kitchen. I think that was the first experience I had in food service, with my grandmother. I would help her do the preparation and just help in the kitchen, just a little bit. I was only like three or four years old, I think, at that time.
JM: Well, do you think that could have been why you got into school nutrition later on?
PN: Oh no Jo. I was telling Nancy on the way down here that I got into food nutrition because I really wanted to be a nurse. My classes in high school were Latin, chemistry, all those things going towards nursing. And I saw this film on accidents, and even though I was sitting down, my knees were shaking. I saw blood and I turned white as a sheet. I know I was white as a sheet because I was sweating all over. I went straight down to the counselor. I left the film and went straight down to the counselor. I said, “I don’t think I can be a nurse. I can’t stand blood.” So she looked at my classes and said, “I think maybe you might be OK in food services.” “Food service, food service, yes, OK.” I really wanted to be a nurse, but even today I can’t see a needle going in my body. I can’t take blood.
JM: So you got into food service…
PN: Just to get away from blood.
JM: But it was a wonderful career wasn’t it?
PN: Oh, it was wonderful!
JM: Nancy, are there some other things that you thought about that you could share with us for the history?
NM: I was very active in 4-H growing up, and this is one of the reasons that I did go into food service, because of all of the different cooking projects that I was involved in.
JM: Is there one special cooking project that you had in 4-H that you remember? Anything special that you learned to cook in 4-H?
NM: I know that we learned to make papaya milkshakes. [Much laughter] You asked about other fruit earlier. We also raised papayas, so we had bananas and papayas.
NM: But 4-H really, really influenced my decision.
JM: It was a very important organization and a lot of outstanding leaders have come through the 4-H Clubs. Extension Service has done a wonderful job.
NM: Yes. I was very fortunate to be a delegate to the National 4-H Club Camp in Washington, DC, as one of four representatives from Hawaii in 1952. This is how my traveling bug started I think.
JM: What was your first national convention?
NM: In 1967, I went to Dallas, TX, and I met Marion Cronin and Doris Ann Brown.
NM: And the two presidents.
NM: Helen. The two Helens.
JM: Helen McGee.
NM: And Helen Lackey.
JM: Yes, they were all wonderful people. Do you remember what your souvenir was from that Dallas convention?
NM: No, I don’t.
JM: That was the first year of the plates.
JM: That was the first year of the plates.
NM: I’m sure I would have that. I have about 39 plates, because I’ve gone to every national conference since 1967, except for 1977 in Houston. I didn’t go to that conference because I went to my daughter’s Bobby Sox game in Buena, Buena Park.
JM: Well, the 1977 conference was quite a challenge, because the 1976 conference was SO outstanding! What can you do to top that? What CAN you do to top 1976? That was an exciting one. Well, we just appreciate so much both of you being here sharing your stories and giving us the benefit of helping us to remember those wonderful days and the wonderful times that we have met at national conventions and in Hawaii. So thank you so much and thank you so much for my beautiful lei, it’s just gorgeous.
PN & NM: Thank you.
JM: And we’ll see you in Chicago.
PN: Oh, yes. We were just talking about it coming down here.
JM: Well, good enough, good enough, and thank you again.
JM: And Mahalo.
PN: And Mahalo.