Archives show Ruth Lee had a rewarding career

Published 6:57 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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Here is another from the Messenger’s series on careers for women which was run in 1969.

Dianne Smith

Dianne Smith

A double edged career as School Food Service Director for Pike County is Mrs. Ruth Lee’s occupation.  Nutrition and business are her concerns as she supervises the feeding of children attending schools of the Pike County system.

“I have been working 24 years and still don’t know all the answers.”  Mrs. Lee has a B. S and M. A. in home economics.  She has worked in many phases of the field including extension service and schools.

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“Anybody working with foods has a problems.  There have been many changes since 1954 and change continues.  Using convenience food which have become available in the past few years is one of the challenges we have.”  Changes in equipment, raw foods, training persons to work with them and financing are some of the challenges.  “There is nothing more rewarding  than coming out with a good product.”

Mrs. Lee regards the foundation of a good nutrition program as the most important part of her work.  Doing this and staying within a budget can be complicated.

I work with cafeteria managers in nine schools.  Principals, teachers and cafeteria workers are also vital to the program.”  Each cafeteria manager plans her meals almost a week in advance.  These meal plans are turned in to Mrs. Lee.

Food habits are learned at an early age.  This along with fads among teenagers can make the work of Mrs. Lee and the cafeteria managers more difficult.  “It is of no use to serve a well-balanced meal that none of the children will eat.  When we want to introduce a new feed, the teachers can often help us by mentioning the food in connection with classroom work.”

“Nutrition is to the total health as reading is to the total education program.  The school lunchroom can be a valuable learning aid also.  Geography and languages can come alive when foreign foods are featured on the lunch menu.  Math has a new meaning when fractions, weights and measures are demonstrated in use in the school kitchen.  There are any number of uses for the lunchroom as a learning laboratory.”

There are many occupations that are available to a person with a home economics degree.  “This is one of the most challenging jobs.  There are unlimited and challenging way of achieving our goals.  It is also a time consuming occupation.  The bookkeeping and reports which we make to the State are very time consuming.”

“I like people and I like to see happy children.  I also enjoy the business end of the job.  We are constantly working toward more participation in the school lunch program.  At the end of the last school year, about 60 percent of the children in the schools participated in the lunch program.”

Mrs. Lee emphasized that the school lunch program required both knowledge and diligence.  Requirements for a school cafeteria manager include a four-year degree and state certification.

“It is a very rewarding career.”

All of these articles can be found in previous editions of The Troy Messenger.  Stay tuned for more.  Dianne Smith is the President of the Pike County Historical, Genealogical and Preservation Society.