Marni Posey replaced Chef Ann Cooper as Berkeley Unified School District’s director of nutrition services Tuesday.
Cooper, who was hired by the school district on a three-year contract with the help of a grant from the Chez Pannisse Foundation in October 2005, left the school district in June to work for the Boulder Valley Unified School District.
Posey was previously the district’s manager of nutrition services under Cooper as well as her assistant for the past three years.
“I was her right hand,” Posey said during a telephone interview Wednesday. “I helped her with everything she did here.”
Cooper’s efforts to ban frozen lunches and replace them with farm-fresh ingredients won her accolades in the national media, including a profile in the New Yorker—big shoes to fill, but Posey’s not worried.
“I am very prepared for it,” she said. “Anne has taught me everything she knew. I am confident everything is going to be fine. I am prepared to enhance the programs, if not make them better.”
Posey has worked in Berkeley Unified’s Nutrition Services department for the last nine years. Before joining Berkeley Unified, she worked at Mount Diablo Unified School District. She has a total of 15 years of experience in food services.
Posey worked with Cooper on revamping Berkeley’s school lunch program, helping to incorporate changes to the menu and setting up the dining commons at King Middle School.
Her new job will put her in charge of a staff of 50, including the district’s executive chef Bonnie Christensen and two sous chefs.
Though the Nutrition Services department has reached its goal of being budget-neutral, Posey said, and is finally paying for itself, it is still receiving a contribution from Berkeley Unified, but the department has managed to whittle down the amount considerably.
“We were going to get a contribution of $310,000 from the district’s General Fund this year, but we were able to chip away at it and bring it down to $23,000,” she said.
Posey said she wanted to focus on getting more Berkeley High School students to take part in the school lunch program, which had posed a challenge for Cooper during her time in Berkeley.
For now, Posey is concentrating on introducing new dishes to the school lunch menu. Her latest creations include spicy apricot drums for middle schoolers and beef barbacoa, a slow-cooked beef Mexican dish.