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Food service manager honored for work in pandemic year

Grand Rapids – Her title at Grand Rapids Public Schools is commissary program manager. 

For today’s students, the definition of commissary as a “store for provisions” might be a mystery. 

But what they do know, and what her supervisors know too, is that Renee Crampton, owner of that aforementioned title, is one of the district’s unsung heroes, even more so in a time of COVID.

Her work was acknowledged recently by the School Nutrition Association of Michigan, which named her Manager of the Year.

‘I get the credit because I organized people, but they showed up and did the work.’   

— Renee Crampton, School Nutrition Association of Michigan Manager of the Year

Phillip Greene, the district’s director of food and nutrition services, said the honor is well earned.

“She encourages input and makes everyone feel that they are a part of the team,” he noted, “and that their suggestions are important. ​Her passion is feeding students, and she coaches team members to work towards continuous improvement to meet the changing needs of the students.”

Crampton, who celebrated 10 years with GRPS last November, was stunned when she heard about the award and is quick to credit her staff for the recognition.

“I work with some of the hardest-working people,” she said. “They really are the ones who deserve this award. I guess I don’t think of myself as a manager, but just part of the team. None of us could do this if we were not all doing our jobs. But of course, I was surprised and happy because I do try to do my best.”

‘Fueled Up for Learning’

Crampton, a Michigan State graduate who has a degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management, added that she and her team see themselves as an important part of the educational journey for students.

“We are always trying to improve what we are offering the kids,” she said. “There are a lot of nutrition guidelines and restrictions that have to be met, but we still want them to enjoy the meals, and we want to get them fueled up for learning.”

Greene added that in her work, Crampton often must make daily menu adjustments based on product availability, but always is able to roll with the punches.

“She has a positive attitude,” he said simply. “She doesn’t spend unnecessary time worrying about the issue but focuses on solutions. She has a ​great attitude, work ethic and dedication to serving GRPS students.”

Serving students is what motivates Crampton and her team. She pointed to their work in the spring of 2020, when COVID hit and she and her staff had to rethink essentially everything they were doing, as an example of their resolve.

“This kitchen did not shut down,” she said, “because a dedicated group of GRPS nutrition staff and volunteers consistently showed up to make lunches. I think that is probably also why I got this award. I get the credit because I organized people, but they showed up and did the work. 

“We enjoy working together,” she added, “and we take pride in what we produce here.”

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Phil de Haan
Phil de Haan
Phil de Haan covers East Grand Rapids and Kelloggsville and is the lead reporter for Grand Rapids. He hails from Exeter, Ontario (but has called Grand Rapids home since 1985) and is the son of a longtime public school teacher who taught both English and machine shop. Phil took both classes at South Huron District High School, but English stuck, and at Calvin College, where he met his wife, Sue, he majored in English and minored in journalism. His background includes both journalism and public relations, including teaching an advertising and PR course at the college level for almost a decade. In the summer of 2019, he began his own writing and communications business, de Haan Communications. In his spare time, Phil plays pick-up hockey and pickleball and tries to keep tabs on his two adult children. Read Phil's full bio


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