School Nutrition Foundation Recognizes Detroit School Nutrition Director

Detroit Public Schools Community District’s Executive Director of the Office of School Nutrition, Betti Wiggins, was recognized as one of five 2017 School Nutrition Heroes by the national, non-profit School Nutrition Foundation.

The Heroes are nominated by peers and chosen by SNF to represent the many professionals who have dedicated their lives to serving the needs of school children and the community.

In the eight years she has been with Detroit Public Schools Community District, Betti has transformed the district’s nutrition and food delivery system. She is a native Detroiter and one of the founding board members of the Detroit Food Policy Council, which nurtures the development and maintenance of a sustainable, localized food system and a food-secure city of Detroit.

Betti Wiggins, Detroit Public Schools Community District

Through the Office of Nutrition, Betti has also established the nationally recognized Detroit School Garden Collaborative, which placed raised-bed gardens in 82 schools.

Betti developed and built Drew Farm at Drew Transition Center, a school for 18 to 26 year olds with cognitive and physical disabilities. The farm produces more than 20,000 pounds of food each year, which end up on school lunch trays, are sold at farmers’ markets below market value and donated to Forgotten Harvest, to help those in need.

Betti is no stranger to rolling up her sleeves and getting her hands dirty. Growing up on a farm in southeastern Michigan, she spent her childhood feeding chickens, pigs and a cow, while also helping her family harvest vegetables.

Wiggins with students participating in one of her Child Nutrition Programs.

Using this love of fresh produce and her formal degree in nutrition from Wayne State University, Betti has been instrumental in helping Detroit students gain access to healthy options.

Betti is a board member of the National Farm to School Network, working with Eastern Market, one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the country. She also worked with Greening of Detroit to develop school garden education programs.

“Betti’s passion, caring and dedication makes her an ideal School Nutrition Hero,” said School Nutrition Association CEO Patti Montague, CAE. “The ongoing local farming advocacy work and nutrition education of students and residents in the Detroit area truly shows her dedication to the city she calls home.”

All of the 2017 School Nutrition Heroes will be recognized at SNF’s Celebration of School Nutrition Heroes, during School Nutrition Association’s 45th Legislative Action Conference in Washington, DC in April. The annual Celebration is SNF’s signature and sole fundraising event to support the Foundation’s education, research and scholarships for school nutrition professionals.

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