School district food service director Stacey Weichelt promotes healthy, local food options
By Kris Rued-Clark
MARSHFIELD — Stacey Weichelt grew up in Spencer and now resides in Stratford with her husband Bryan and their four children: Lilyanna, Dylan, Logan, and Mason.
As food service director, Stacey oversees the entire food service operation for the Marshfield School District. Her tasks include reporting and claiming to the Department of Public Instruction, supervising 23 employees, food/supply purchasing, developing menus that meet regulations, nutrient analysis, ensuring that all kitchens operate efficiently, and meeting all health codes along with compliance of all federal and state laws. Additionally, she processes free and reduced applications, manages data, generates new ideas and recipes, and monitors school wellness.
When time allows, she enjoys observing the lunch programs in the elementary schools.
“The students in this district are so polite and well mannered. I love the honesty at that age and truly enjoy when they are excited about a new product or just excited about breakfast or lunch that day. It is refreshing to see the reason behind what we do,” Stacey said.
The most challenging part of her job is creating menus. Not only must she take into account the new regulations and manufacturers trying to catch up to new guidelines, but she must also factor in financial restrictions and equipment/kitchen limitations and still find foods that the students will eat.
Both Stacey and Bryan are committed to a strong local food economy, as evidenced by their volunteer work in founding the Stratford Farmers Market. She strongly supports the farm to school program, which brings local foods into the schools.
“In the past four years, some of the great items that our district has seen are Nasonville cheese, Wenzel Farm hot dogs, potatoes, apples, carrot coins, sweet potato sticks, cabbage and carrots for coleslaw, winter squash, watermelon, zucchini and carrots for homemade harvest muffins, onions, dried cranberries, spinach, radishes, green peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Due to logistics or pricing, it didn’t work out to offer some items on a routine basis. However, we are proud to value the importance of farm to school and try to incorporate it each month,” said Stacey.
The Wood County Health Department initiated farm to school programs in the county and provided the districts with resources, helping solve hurdles and organizing meetings for the districts to come together. Occasionally, the districts work together in purchasing at the same time so that it is worthwhile for farmers to come to the county to deliver.
With her passion for wellness and her role in the school district, Stacey plays an active role on the School Wellness Committee, a joint committee between the school district and the Marshfield Clinic Healthy Lifestyles Marshfield Area Coalition.
With a family of four young children, Stacey does not find much time for hobbies, but when time allows, “I enjoy pretty much anything outdoors,” she said. Staying well and keeping active are priorities for this busy mom, and she encourages others to do the same.