Jane Pepin has seen lots of change at Hudson Falls Central Schools. She’s spent 37 years in the district, all of them as the Nutrition Services Manager. And on June 30th she will serve her last meal. She says much has changed over her nearly four-decade career.
“We started in 1980 with just a school lunch program,” said Food Service Director Jane Pepin. “Then in 1986 we started serving breakfast. Then we added summer meals. Just in the past year or so, we’ve gone full scale after school. We’re serving over 300 snacks on any given day after school. So it’s amazing how the lunch program has expanded. It’s not just lunch anymore.”
And Pepin says, it’s not just how many meals, but how much choice students have. “When I started, we served one lunch,” she said. “Soon after, I tried to introduce a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as a choice, and that was a big deal. Today, we’ve got nine to ten choices at the high school!”
Pepin says her staff has to stay ahead of the recent trends of healthy school lunches. In fact, it’s a great point of pride. “We’ve been serving whole grains for years.” Adding, “We serve lower fat and we’re getting fresh veggies and fruits into each meal. We can’t push too far because students won’t always take the good stuff. So it’s a balance. We try to make the kids favorite food, but make it healthy.”
She says another one of the programs she’s proud of is Grandparent’s Day. “I started it at the elementary school on Burgoyne Avenue in September 1988,” Pepin reflected back with a smile. “We had 86 Grandparents come. The board liked it so much they asked me to expand it to the other elementary schools. So we did the next year, and the year after that. Last year we served over 1,000 meals!”
Through it all, she credits much of her success to her hard working, dedicated staff who are truly devoted to our customers – the students and staff. She is also grateful to our very supportive Board of Education. You might not know it, but the school lunch program is fairly unique at Hudson Falls. “Not many school lunch programs are still board managed,” Pepin explained. “Many of them are run by a management company, whose focus is the financial bottom line. We are school run and it’s not just about business. It’s about doing the best job we can for our students with the money we have and making sure the community values what we provide.”