LINQ Nutrition Improves Productivity & Participation at Palm Springs USD

Stephanie Bruce, Nutrition Service Director at Palm Springs USD discussing how LINQ Nutrition helped her nutrition program productivity

Stephanie Bruce, Director of Nutrition Services at Palm Springs Unified School District, is always on the go. She juggles a lot between her career and passion for travel, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. Sometimes the two even coincide! We sat down with Stephanie to learn more about her program and how she uses LINQ Nutrition to improve program productivity and address her district’s unique needs.

How long have you been using LINQ Nutrition?

Bruce: “We are starting our second full school year with LINQ. We did a slow transition at the end of the 2013-14 school year instead of a “go-live” at the beginning of the school year so that the staff would not be so overwhelmed with a new system at the most stressful time of the year.  We have one year and three months under our belt and feel like pros!”

What duties and responsibilities does your position entail?

Bruce: “As the director of the department, I oversee the entire nutrition service operation. We have 170 employees, a 20,000 sq. ft. central kitchen facility, 27 K-12 sites. Our district offers the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the School Breakfast Program (SBP), the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP, also known as Supper and Snack) and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). We produce over 20,000 meals daily and transport food to the Coachella Valley for Summer Feeding, which is about an hour’s drive east of Palm Springs. We are like a small corporation as my role wears many hats; human resources, inventory control, procurement, chef, nutritionist, fire chief, guidance counselor, fiscal controller and motivator, to name a few.”

What aspects of your position do you enjoy the most?

Bruce: “Making it all come together. There are so many cogs in the wheel of Child Nutrition and no matter what happens; we still serve breakfast at breakfast time and lunch at lunchtime. It doesn’t matter if the electricity goes out or the water shuts off or the delivery didn’t show up or the regulations change, thus increasing your cost and decreasing your participation; you make it work. Every day is something new and is a challenge.  It takes a special person to work in this kind of environment and the people I am blessed to work with make every day a good day.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

Bruce: “I spend a lot of my free time traveling. I enjoy experiencing new cultures and seeing what school lunch is like in other countries. Years ago, I traveled with a group and toured school lunch in Italy and England. Now when I travel to other countries I make contacts before I go and spend at least one day seeing how school meals are served. It has been such an inspiration and done so differently in the rest of the world. I’ve eaten school lunch in Germany, France, Hungary, and I am hoping next to tour school meals in Sweden, where it is provided for all students free of charge. I also enjoy amateur photography, cooking, of course, and hanging out with my schnauzer, Mikey. I don’t sit still too often; there is always something to do and something new to experience.”

What was your favorite school lunch when you were in school?

Turkey and gravy with mashed potatoes. Back in those days, we had lunch tickets—yellow was a lunch ticket, and orange was a milk ticket. My mom made my lunch for me until she went back to work when I was in the 4th grade. I used to go each morning and buy my orange milk ticket for $0.07. Crazy! I remember being so excited when mom went back to work because I was going to get a hot lunch every day instead of once a week. I used to take my $0.50 to Mrs. Owen, our lunch lady at McKinley Elementary, to get my yellow lunch ticket and held on tight to it.”

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