Portland food service director wins state award

Ron Adams, food service director for the Portland Public Schools, has won the School Nutrition Association (SNA) Outstanding Director of the Year Award for Maine. Adams will be honored at a red carpet awards ceremony in July at SNA’s national conference in Boston.

“We are fortunate to have Ron Adams leading the effort to provide Portland students with nutritious and delicious meals,” said Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk. “He has been a leader in Maine in providing local foods in school cafeterias. He also has worked effectively with community partners to address the problem of children going hungry in the summer months.”

Adams, who has worked in child nutrition since 1993, became Portland’s food service director six years ago. He oversees 16 kitchens that serve 5,500 meals daily.

A strong advocate of the farm-to-school movement, Adams worked with a school and community team in Gorham to reinvent the Maine Harvest Lunch and to expand it into a statewide event.

Under his leadership, the Portland Public Schools has increased its spending on local foods. Currently, the district spends 37 percent of its food budget on local foods, with a goal of reaching 50 percent by 2016.

In 2010, the Portland Public Schools participated in a two-year grant to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. The grant paid for refrigerated salad bars at 10 schools, a local foods manager and assistant as well as nutrition labels for school menu items.

In 2013, the district opened a new Central Kitchen. That completed the switch from shipping food hot to shipping it cold and reheating it on site to improve food quality and reduce waste.