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Portland school food service manager is Maine's best

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Portland school food service manager is Maine's best

PORTLAND — The food service manager for the city's middle and high schools was named the Manager of the Year by the Maine School Nutrition Association.

Nancy McAdam said she wasn't even aware she had been nominated for the award until the organization phoned her about it last week. She called the recognition "a pleasant surprise."

"It's been a crazy week," McAdam said Friday, citing the arrival of April vacation and schedule changes for test days. "(The award) came at a good time."

According to the MSNA website, the Louise Sublette Award of Leadership Excellence in School Nutrition "is considered the highest honor a school nutrition manager can earn."

McAdam was quick to dismiss the award as a solitary achievement, saying it was to be shared by everyone she works with behind the lunch lines.

"When one has an award, it's all of ours," McAdam said. She added it was a nice recognition for those who might feel like "they're just lunch ladies."

In a press release from the Portland Public Schools, Betty Hayes, MSNA president, said McAdam "exemplifies excellence in school food service, going above and beyond to enhance the Portland Public Schools community.”

McAdam has been working for the School Department for 22 years, and has been a manager for 15. When she first started, she said she was working just two hours a day in the Portland High School cafe.

"I was in banking (before) and had a family," she said. "... Someone said (I) should get into food service."

When she first stepped into a managerial role, McAdam was the food service manager only at PHS. But since then, people have left and budgets have tightened, and McAdam said she "slowly took over more and more," and now she manages all the middle and high schools.

McAdam is responsible for the daily cafeteria operations and project implementations at the district's three high schools and four middle schools. She said she is always running back and forth between all the schools.

"You never know what's going to happen, which is what I like about this job," she said.

McAdam, a PHS graduate, said she has seen many changes in the schools, especially cultural changes.

"Before there was one free lunch line, so everyone knew (if a student was receiving free lunch)," McAdam said. Since then, she said changes for the better have taken place, including a new computer system for recording meal sales, so privacy is assured if a student receives free or reduced-cost lunch.

McAdam will receive her honor at a banquet during the annual MSNA Conference, which will be held in August in Bangor. She will also be considered for the national School Nutrition Association’s Manager of the Year Award.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.