THIS IS WHAT A SUPERSTAR LOOKS LIKE
Audrey Hamilton is an enthusiastic, go-getter brimming with energy and passion for feeding students at Clayton County Schools in Georgia.
If Audrey Hamilton had a cape secretly tucked away in her closet, no one would be surprised. After all, “fueling student achievement with proper nutrition” is Audrey’s motto, and she delivers on that promise daily despite endless obstacles.
As any school foodservice director would tell you, Audrey has a tough gig. Feeding thousands of students at warp speed on a tight budget and under strict regulations is challenging on a good day. Add a pandemic to the mix, and things shift quickly into crisis mode.
Except, Audrey embraces challenges with seemingly impossible positivity and an outlook that only points up. In fact, one of the things she enjoys about foodservice is the constant change.
“This industry never allows you to get comfortable. It is always changing,” Audrey said. “During the pandemic, we had to come up with clever ways to serve students in person, curbside and on buses. We had to retrain our staff and start over.”
Audrey and her team typically serve 42,000 meals per day but dropped to only 6,000 meals—if they were lucky— when the pandemic hit. Now they’re back up to serving 17,000 meals per day and have high hopes for ramping back up to full capacity next fall.
One thing that hasn’t changed is Clayton County School’s steady reliance on Blodgett products. Audrey’s team uses more than 350 pieces of Blodgett equipment, and the staff loves every single one of them. In fact, Blodgett equipment is the preferred choice in the kitchen.
That level of reliability and support allows Audrey and team to do what they’re really passionate about: feeding and entertaining students, and there’s no end to the creativity they infuse into that mission.
From customizable pasta and burger bars, to pop-up lunch vending carts, to race cars, DJs and farmer markets (complete with real, live cows), Audrey and team infuse flavor and fun into everything they do for Clayton County students.
“We are engaged with the students and try to spark their imagination,” Audrey said. “We try to make sure we are always trending and looking at ways to get kids to eat more.”
With more time focused on the eating experience, Audrey is thankful she can rely on her equipment to deliver the efficiency her staff needs. Some of Audrey’s favorite features of her Blodgett ovens includes the cook-and-hold option and turnbuckle doors, that make it simple to handle large trays of food.
Speed to service is core to Audrey’s operation, and Blodgett helps her staff deliver consistently cooked food that’s out on the serving lines quickly.
“The consistent, even cooking is so important to our operation,” Audrey said. “My staff doesn’t have to turn the pans around, which avoids burns and conserves time.”
For Audrey, busy days end on a high note. That’s when she can pause and reflect on her day, giving her the opportunity to analyze the nutrition program and tweak anything that’s broken.
“That’s where my creativity comes in. I’m not afraid to take a chance; I’m a conservative risk taker. I like to fix problems and enhance ideas that work,” she said.
Superstar. That’s what Audrey Hamilton is to Clayton County Schools. As director of nutrition services who’s defeated impossible odds, Audrey Hamilton is THE G.O.A.T., and she only trusts one oven. Blodgett, the Greatest Oven of All Time.
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There must be collection of chefs and operators moonlighting as notaries, because the Blodgett Convection Ovens just keep receiving stamps of approval. Our ovens earn stars across their report cards—because they set the standard for decades-long quality and reliability for high volume and rigorous use in commercial kitchens.