June 21, 2021

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Heroes Unmasked Update: Marker adds dash of innovation to Laker meal courses


PIGEON — Laker Educational institutions Superintendent W. Brian Keim remembers a time not so lengthy back when at the very least 50 % his students “brown-bagged it,” like his individual little ones.

“I had never ever observed so quite a few little ones provide their own lunch to school,” he claimed.

Federal pointers aimed at combating being overweight had led to a reduction in the selection of students’ preferred lunchroom objects, matters like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, wheat bread and selected salad dressings, to identify a couple.

Then, about 5 years in the past, Laker employed Cinamon Marker to give its food program an enhance, and brown-bag lunches ended up tossed aside in favor of wholesome and tastier foods selections.



Marker was to begin with employed as a specialty chef employing a Farm to Faculty grant by way of the USDA. Her function would be to consider new foods thoughts that would deliver nearby foodstuff things to Laker lunchroom tables. She would also be billed with revitalizing a lunch program that had endured less than Obama-era nourishment guidelines.



“We required to reimagine issues, and this grant allowed us to do that,” Keim said.

Marker often had a enthusiasm for foods and cooking, getting attended culinary college just after operating for years in accounting, and Laker college students would before long profit from that enthusiasm.


Pupils would soon uncover clean soups, greens and specialty desserts amid the conventional lunchtime fare, and enthusiasm for the university lunch menu would mature. When the foodstuff company director made the decision to retire, Marker would take on the role.

“Now new foodstuff and homestyle cooking are a lot more a day by day way of lifestyle,” Keim mentioned. “We (have) an incredible lunch buffet with all sorts of salads and fresh fruits and greens. Young ones actually acquired excited about that.”


Keim stated their meals application went from staying “kind of a dark location to a shining star.” The constructive reaction to the new food items possibilities brought an unanticipated facet profit: the meals application turned considerably extra financially effective as college students lined up to take edge of the new menu.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Laker foods system to shift its concentration from new foods to prepackaged items as college students have been pressured to study from home or eat at their desks in hard work to stem the distribute of the virus.

Thanks to extra grants from the USDA, Laker has been furnishing foods to young children below the age of 18 because schools originally shut in March. At the stop of August, Marker and her workforce experienced delivered about 115,000 meals to kids in the region, and the food stuff services personnel will also get the job done to offer meals during the holiday crack to these children who have to have them. Keim extra they hope funding will be out there to carry on the application indefinitely. It’s all been achievable many thanks in massive portion to Marker and her focused workers.


“She’s been a trouper and a chief in making guaranteed that our young ones get fed even when they’re not in college,” he mentioned. “She’s a visionary, and she’s also centered on serving our kids.”

Traci Weisenbach, community relations coordinator for Laker Universities, explained Marker has delivered a constant hand during a troubled time as the pandemic has progressed and training has modified, and that is been a great matter for college students.

“Cinamon is whole of beneficial electrical power and impressive concepts to assistance make our food items provider system the best it can be,” Weisenbach explained. “She has maneuvered by many hard constraints thanks to COVID-19, and she always finds means to provide healthy foods to our college students. We are so grateful to have her on our Laker crew.”

Jodi Judis is a member of the food assistance staff members and claimed she could not be prouder of the crew at Laker and loves becoming a member. Marker is the major motive for that.

“She’s an great leader and a wonderful motivator,” Judis mentioned. “The children usually appear 1st. She goes earlier mentioned and beyond. She’s fully rockin’ it.”