The Houston Independent School District has selected Betti J. Wiggins as the district’s new officer of Nutrition Services.
Wiggins currently serves as the executive director of the office of school nutrition with the Detroit Public Schools Community District, where she is responsible for school-based meal operations in 141 schools for all USDA child nutrition programs. Under her leadership, she helped establish the Detroit School Garden Collaborative, which currently supports more than 80 school-based gardens and a two-acre school farm.
“We are excited to welcome Ms. Wiggins to Houston ISD to lead our school nutrition program,” said HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza. “She has tremendous experience in school nutrition and will help us improve our program for both students and staff as we invest in new equipment, training and menus.”
Wiggins is scheduled to start her new role at HISD in May. As a key member of the district’s operations staff, she will be responsible for managing and implementing the district’s school nutrition programs, including the National School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program for Children, Snack Program, National School Lunch Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Commodity Program, and the Free and Reduced-Price Meal Program.
“Ms. Wiggins will guide the rebranding of our strategic approach to scratch-cooking certain menu items at the schools, while increasing the capacity of our production facility on the bulk items for our students, staff and catering customers,” said HISD Chief Operating Officer Brian Busby.
Wiggins earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Wayne State University. She also holds a certificate in municipal management from George Washington University. She serves as vice chair of the Local Food Association, co-chair of the Detroit Food and Fitness Collaboration, and also serves on the executive committee of the National Farm to School Network. She’s delivered special testimony on the subject of “Meeting the Challenges of Feeding America’s School Children” at a congressional hearing before the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry of the United States Senate.
HISD worked in collaboration with consultant National Gateway Solutions to identify an ideal candidate for the position that will be tasked with reshaping the district’s nutrition program. HISD Nutrition Services serves more than 280,000 nutritious meals to students at 287 schools every day, including free breakfast to all students, free lunch at 186 schools, and dinner served at 50 campuses. The Food Services Support Facility (FSSF), Nutrition Services’ state-of-the-art cooking, storage and distribution center, is the largest modern food production facility of its kind in an urban school district. Nutrition Services prepares more than 20 million breakfast meals and has the largest breakfast in the classroom program in the country. Nutrition Services also prepares and serves more than 24 million lunches annually to the district’s 215,000-plus students.