Blog Archive

Friday, February 3, 2017

Michigan Farm to School Champions Honored

Michiganders, it is an off week for news, but I have some truly wonderful announcements to share!


Every year, the School Nutrition Foundation recognizes food service directors across the country for going beyond their required responsibilities and making significant contribution to their communities with the "School Nutrition Heroes" award.


This year, two of those five Heroes (that's right, TWO!) are Michiganders. Doreen Simonds of Waterford Public Schools and Betti Wiggins of Detroit Public Schools are two of the most wonderful people I've had the pleasure of working with in my time in Michigan, and both have contributed greatly not only to their own districts but in supporting farm to school efforts statewide. Please join me in sending them not only congratulations for this honor, but a heartfelt thank you for all they've done to improve access to local foods for children throughout Michigan! Scroll to the bottom of the newsletter for bios on each of their efforts.


Also, don't forget the Michigan Cherry Slurp is just two weeks away! I've heard from lots of folks about plans to celebrate tart cherries on February 14 in many different forms. It's not too late to sign up and plan your event! Don't forget to check out our informational webinar to learn more.


Best, and have a wonderful weekend,


Abby Harper

Farm to School Specialist

MSU Center for Regional Food Systems

480 Wilson Rd Rm 309 | East Lansing, MI 48824

(p) 517-432-4525 (f) 517-353-3834 |


Betti Wiggins

Executive Director of Office of School Nutrition, Detroit Public Schools, Detroit, Michigan

In the eight years she has been with Detroit Public Schools Community District, Betti has transformed the district's nutrition and food delivery system. She is a native Detroiter and one of the founding board members of the Detroit Food Policy Council, which nurtures the development and maintenance of a sustainable, localized food system and a food-secure city of Detroit. Through the Office of Nutrition, Betti has also established the nationally recognized Detroit School Garden Collaborative, which placed raised-bed gardens in 82 schools. The Collaborative staff also provides work-based skills training for students at Randolph Career and Technical Center. Using her love of fresh produce and her formal degree in nutrition from Wayne State University, Betti has been instrumental in helping Detroit students gain access to healthy options. She is a board member of the National Farm to School Network, working with Eastern Market, one of the oldest farmers' markets in the country. She also worked with Greening of Detroit to develop school garden education programs. Betti developed and built Drew Farm at Drew Transition Center, a school for 18 to 26 year olds with cognitive and physical disabilities, helping to produce more than 20,000 pounds of food each year for school lunch trays and to help those in need.


Doreen Simonds

Food Service Director, Waterford School District, Waterford, Michigan

Described as a "charismatic, yet humble leader" with "relentless energy," Doreen has dedicated 31 years to the Waterford School District. Spearheading a district-wide Farm to School program, Doreen created three school gardens and partnered with Oakland County Farmers to provide fresh Michigan produce on the schools' menus. She created various learning environments for students, producing effective educational programs through a reading wall with nutrition books and edible school gardens to learn how to grow, harvest and prepare local ingredients. In 2011, Doreen created a "Food and Fit Committee," a wellness team made up of physical education teachers, nutrition staff and students. The team has supported multiple initiatives throughout her district, including "Jump and Jill" and HOP Sports activity programs. Doreen's efforts extend beyond school nutrition, setting up field trips to local farmers' markets, arranging a free "Smile Dentist" to provide kids with dental treatments and holding annual book swaps.



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