Betti Wiggins, Nutrition Services Officer
Betti Wiggins is one of the foremost authorities on school nutrition and food service management. The impact of her work has been felt throughout the country and she continues to work tirelessly to promote the need to provide students with nutritious food.
In May 2017, Wiggins was named officer of Nutrition Services for Houston Independent School District, the nation’s seventh largest school district. She is responsible for managing and implementing all of the district’s school nutrition programs that serve more than 280,000 nutritious meals to students at 287 schools every day, including free breakfast to all students, free lunch at 186 campuses, and dinner served at more than 50 sites. She is also responsible for the operations of the Food Services Support Facility, a state-of-the-art cooking, storage, and distribution center. The facility is the largest modern food production facility of its kind in an urban school district.
Prior to joining Houston ISD, Wiggins served as the executive director of the Office of School Nutrition for Detroit Public Schools Community District, where she was responsible for school-based meal operations in 141 schools. Under her leadership, the Detroit School Garden Collaborative was established in 2011. Since its inception, the program has grown to support more than 80 school-based gardens and a two-acre school farm. Her work in Detroit public schools earned extensive praise and positioned her as a transformer of school nutrition through innovative practices and changes.
Before her time in Detroit, Wiggins held school district executive positions in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Atlanta, Paterson, NJ, and Ann Arbor, MI. She has also provided both strategic and tactical food service management solutions to charter schools, food service management companies, and public school districts of all sizes. In the private sector, she has consulted on ensuring quality service, operational accountability and statutory compliance with local, state and federal laws. In 1989, Wiggins as one of the first African-Americans recruited to management in the Marriott Corporation’s Division of School Services.
Wiggins is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the International Foodservices Manufacturers Association’s (IFMA) 2017 Silver Plate award, the School Nutrition Foundation’s 2017 School Nutrition Hero award, FoodService Director Magazine’s 2017 Food Service Director of the Year, the Life Time Foundation Healthy Hero award, the 2016 FAME award, as well as the School Nutrition Association of Michigan 2015 Director of the Year.
She currently serves as vice chair of the Local Food Association and sits on the executive committee of the National Farm to School Network. She has delivered special testimony on the subject of “Meeting the Challenges of Feeding America’s School Children” at a congressional hearing before the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry of the United States Senate.
Wiggins earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Wayne State University and pursued graduate studies at the University of Minnesota. She holds a certificate in municipal management from George Washington University.