North Carolina Farm to School

Advisory Board

Farm to School Advisory Board
Farm to School Advisory Board

The NC Farm to School program was created to support NC public school nutrition program’s efforts to procure fruits and vegetables grown in the state.  From the beginning, school nutrition directors have played a vital role in the program.  They advise NCDA&CS on everything from the types of crops we offer to the serving and pack sizes of those crops.  Their guidance ensures the NC Farm to School program meets the school’s needs and requirements.

There are eight members of the advisory committee, each representing one of the NC DPI school nutrition districts.  The School Nutrition Directors represent districts of various sizes, from 3 schools to over 190.  The committee meets several times a year.  Many of those meetings include visiting farms that supply produce to the NC Farm to School program.

The advisory committee members are:

Lauren Weyand – Craven County

Craven County School Nutrition Director Lauren Weyand came to North Carolina from Georgia. She graduated as a Registered Dietitian (RD) from Georgia State University and earned her master’s degree in Dietetic Administration from Utah State University.

Her career in school nutrition stared in Georgia during her dietetic foodservice rotation in 2011.  Lauren worked for five years as the district Registered Dietitian and Menu Planner Bibb County Schools in Georgia.  Moving to North Carolina, she worked in Pitt County as an RD and Supervisor.

Lauren has been the School Nutrition Director in Craven for almost two years. Her program serves students in 23 schools and two early colleges, spending approximately $30,000 per year through the NC Farm to School program.

Joe Otranto – Halifax County

Joe Otranto has spent over 22 years directing school nutrition programs in three different states.  He started in North Carolina in Asheboro City and Orange County before moving to Duval County schools in Florida.  From there Joe’s path led to York City schools in Pennsylvania before he took the position as School Nutrition Director in Halifax County. 

Since starting in Halifax, the district has earned School Meals Initiative compliance, started participating in the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program and introduced nutrition education in health curriculum.  The district was awarded a silver award from the Farm to School Coalition of NC in 2019. 

Joe is a ServSafe instructor and earned his School Nutrition Specialist credential from the School Nutrition Association.  He is a member of the USDA Advisory Council, NC Standards for School Meals committee and NCASBO.  He earned a BS in Hospitality Management from Florida International University. 

Alison Francis – Haywood County

Alison Francis graduated with a BS in Hospitality Management from Western Carolina University.  She started her career in school nutrition as a cafeteria manager, then moved to a supervisor position in Cabarrus County.  Alison was named School Nutrition Director in Stanly County, where she served for six years. She has earned her School Nutrition Specialist credential from the School Nutrition Association. 

For the last 10 years Alison has been director of the Haywood County School Nutrition program, which includes 15 schools.  Her program spends approximately $25,000 each year on produce through the NC Farm to School program.

Kelly Green – Randolph County

Kelly Green was named School Nutrition Director for Randolph County schools in 2019.  She started her career as a School Nutrition Supervisor in the district 15 years ago before being promoted to Assistant Director. Kelly oversees a program that feeds students at 31 schools across the district, with more than $44,000 spent on NC Farm to School produce. 

A graduate of Appalachian State, Kelly holds a BS in Health Promotion. 

April Jordan – Sampson County

April earned a Bachelor of Science in Family and Consumer Sciences Education from East Carolina University and holds current licensure in NC.  She has been in education for 25 years and has previously served as Family and Consumer Sciences teacher and School Nutrition Supervisor before becoming the Director of School Nutrition for Sampson County Schools in October 2000. 

Sampson County Schools annually diverts $300,000.00 from USDA entitlement to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables for students with roughly $125,000.00 being spent on North Carolina produce.  At least one fresh fruit or vegetable is available daily for service at the district’s 18 schools.

Denise Lamar – Union County

Denise Lamar, SNS – is the Director of School Nutrition Services for Union County Public Schools. UCPS has 53 school sites and 42,400 students.  Denise is a native of Mayfield, KY and a graduate of Murray State University in Murray, KY. She received a BS in Home Economics with an area in Food, Nutrition, and Dietetics. 

This is Denise’s 31st year in School Foodservice with 29 of those being spent working at UCPS.  She supervises a program with 53 schools and spent $73,933.65 in NC Farm to School purchases for 2019-2020 school year.  Denise is blessed to have a wonderful staff of Supervisors and Managers who are dedicated to making the foodservice program the best it can be for the students of UCPS.

Denise just celebrated her 30th wedding anniversary this past September with her husband David and they have a son Jonathan and a daughter Katie.

Cindy Marion – Yadkin County/Elkin City Schools

Cindy Southern Marion has been a School Nutrition Director for more than 30 years.  She began her career with Mt. Airy City Schools and later served Stokes County Schools. Currently, Cindy is the director for Yadkin County Schools and Elkin City Schools. Her districts spend $28,000 in NC Farm to School product yearly for 14 schools in Yadkin and 3 in Elkin.

Over the years, Cindy has been involved in policy development and advocacy for the NC Farm to School program and school meals.   She was awarded one of the first USDA National Farm to School grants and worked with a local high school to become the first school program in the nation to get GAP audited and certified.  Her team in Yadkin County was recognized with the first NCDA&C Best Practices award for innovative use and promotion of NC Farm to School products.

She earned a B.S. from Meredith College in Home Economics with a concentration in Nutrition and a M.A. from Appalachian State University in Nutrition.

Paula Delucca – Wake County

Paula De Lucca is the Senior Director of Child Nutrition Services with the Wake County Public School System.  She provides the strategic direction on initiatives designed to support wellness and enhance serviceability based on the diverse needs and expectations of students and system stakeholders, and the stewardship of a $57M budget for 190 schools.  She is a member of the Wake County Food Security Work Group and Wake County School Health Advisory Committee.

With a career that spans nearly 40 years in child nutrition, prior to joining WCPSS in 2014, Paula enjoyed a progressive career with the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Food Service Professionals (a non-profit SFA) and Ceres Food Group, Inc. (a for-profit contract management provider).  In her most recent eleven years as Chief Operating Officer, she oversaw SFA,  regulatory and sales/marketing operations, multiple manufacturing/warehousing facilities, 400+ operating units, and led organization change for R&D and distribution of client services to K12/Higher Ed schools and healthcare facilities in four Midwest states.  Paula has held numerous leadership positions on state association boards, is a former President of the Illinois School Nutrition Association, and Regional Director of the National School Nutrition Association.

 Paula earned her BA in Secondary Education and Art from Carthage College (Kenosha, WI) and MS in Management and Organization Behavior from Benedictine University (Lisle, IL).