Winton Woods City Schools is proud to announce Mark Docter, Director of the Child Nutrition Department, as a WeThrive Champion award winner. The organization recognizes exceptional leaders who put “community wellness in action.” For years, Docter’s efforts have reached beyond cafeteria rooms transforming what meal distribution and accessibility to fresh foods look like for Winton Woods students. On December 3, Docter, along with thirteen other recipients, were honored on a virtual live award ceremony that was streamed on Facebook where family, friends, and staff members tuned in to watch. Docter received the “Champion for Health Equity” award for his hard work and dedication to the health and wellness of his community. “I could not do any of this without them and their belief in me. Everyone in the district has been supportive and working together for a common goal. This is a team effort.”
For the third consecutive year, the department was selected for the Champion of School Breakfast award by the Ohio School Breakfast Partners, becoming one of only two districts in the state to achieve this “3-peat”. The program recognizes districts for their innovative and collaborative school breakfast practices. “Such an impactful program,” said Mark, who implemented a food cart system with packaged breakfasts for students to grab on their way to class. “We are constantly looking for new innovative ways to become more efficient, as well as creating more meals that students can eat that are out of a bowl and not a wrapper.” The food services team prioritizes creating new items for the lunch menu and meal programs with nutritious and delicious options that students will enjoy. Prior to COVID, all students in elementary grades received fresh fruit like mango slices, apples, and pineapples four days a week. In 2017, the district converted a retired school bus into a mobile “Nutrition is the Mission”meal distribution vehicle that has provided students with lunches six days a week during the summer. In addition, the bus included a mobile library with free books for children to pick as they receive their meal, as well as a wifi hotspot. One thing about Mark Docter is he lives in the present but is always working towards a bigger goal for the future. “Breakfast in the classroom, lunch in the classroom with hot meals like hamburgers, chicken patty sandwiches, and tacos are served from our meal carts,” said Docter. “We are creating food programs that can also be implemented into the two new buildings with distributive dining that allows students to eat at any time.” Along with creating new innovative programs, the team upgrades the menu, creates new meal ideas, and even packages their own fresh frozen fruit cups.
Docter has a deep connection with his mission and appreciation for what he does daily. “This is more than a job to me, this is my life. Nutrition is the Mission is beyond just filling bellies. It impacts the student’s mind and their spirit. You can not learn on an empty stomach or perform at your best. I have tried it.” Working around the clock, Docter’s passion comes from personal experiences and his hope to ensure every student is provided with healthy nourishing meals year-round. “If we can teach them how good fresh food can taste at a young age, we are hoping it will stick and they will continue through the rest of their lives.”
PHOTO CAPTION: (Shown l-r) Child Nutrition Department Secretary Andrea Tellez, Director Mark Docter, and Assistant to Director Vickie Koeninger with their three Champion of School Breakfast awards. Photo by Drew Jackson.