“I started out as food service supervisor as well as receptionist and typist. That was my first twenty years. From then on, I’ve just been food service supervisor,” said Cook, who succeeded Dean Walrond as food service supervisor.
“There just got to be so much job to do,” she said, “so they decided to split it up.
As food service supervisor, Cook makes sure that the school system’s cafeteria program operates according to not only local regulations, but state and federal guidelines as well.
She also handles all of the free and reduced lunch applications that come through the board office each year.
Cook says one of the main things that has changed about her position is that many things she once had to do by hand, she now does on the computer.
She submits lunch reports to the state department, orders commodity—or free—food from the USDA, orders Department of Defense (DOD) produce, and processes lunch applications through the computer.
“Over the years, the computer came along, and that’s helped a great deal,” she said.
“There’s a lot more work to do now, but, it has made it easier.”
“In the early to mid-80s, we had to start purchasing on bid,” she said, which means they had to start allowing different companies the opportunity to place bids on providing their products to the food service program. These are approved annually by the school board.
There are a few changes to the cafeteria that Cook has been around to implement throughout the years.
“This past school year, they were going to have to start furnishing water in some form, whether it be a water fountain in the cafeteria area or a pitcher of water with cups, that was available to the students if they wanted it so we took care of that right away. They all have a water fountain.”
Cook also oversaw the implementation of the automation of the school’s lunch lines.
“At each school, the cashiers used to have a cash sheet or a roster to check off who ate each day. Since then, they’ve gotten registers that take care of that. And, since the registers, they now have a computer program that’s just simplified that whole process for the cafeteria managers.
“At the elementary schools, they have the students’ names entered in by teacher and classroom, and, as the students come through, they click on their name to show that they ate that day. If they have money in their account, that deducts it.
“At the high school, they have a key pad, and, as the students come through, they enter their PIN.”
Cook is married to James Cook and has three daughters and two stepdaughters. She has nine grandchildren.
She grew up in Macon County but has lived in Knoxville, Indiana, and Livingston, Tenn.
So far, she doesn’t have any big plans for her retirement.
“I’m just going to relax and enjoy life,” she said.
Overall, Cook has seen the addition of new schools and a growth in student population in Macon County, which kept her busy.
“I’m just glad I’ve been able to work here as long as I have,” said Cook.
In her last weeks, Cook spent time training her replacement.
Dawn Thompson, who was the principal at Central Elementary School, will be taking over the food service supervisor
position next year, and Cook says she will have a lot of changes in regulations she will have to oversee.
“There are a lot of new changes about to take place coming up in the next school year. I don’t know what all of those are. I just know there are going to have to be more fruits and vegetables and more whole grains, low or no fat milk, besides what we’re already doing. We’re already doing a lot of that, but it’s going to have to change to be more. They’re in the process of learning that now.”