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Kenyatta Chandller of HISD Named CACFP Inspire Trailblazer Award Finalist

April 11, 2022

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Kenyatta Chandler is the Senior Manager of Nutrition Services, Compliance and Accountability at Houston Independent School District. This is no small role. She oversees the service of nearly 200,000 students across 274 campuses. Kenyatta's regular duties include overseeing her department’s administration and adherence to federal, state and local policies and regulations. She develops systems of control to manage risk. Kenyatta is also responsible training and development for nutrition services management and staff managing the CACFP and other programs in which HISD participates.

To say Kenyatta already had a big job is an understatement. Yet when the pandemic crisis struck, she made it possible for the HISD Nutrition Services Department to overcome a potential $56 million dollar deficit entering the 2020-2021 school year. Districts across the country were making the tough decision to furlough staff, cut special programming and dismiss some professionals. Kenyatta's efforts helped to secure the financial future of HISD. Her program innovation, applied to multiple distribution channels, allowed her department to increase program revenue from $29.2 million to $97.8 million. Kenyatta helped close the deficit gap, return a $15 million dollar surplus, and deliver 24 million reimbursable meals.

But how did this trailblazer do it?

Kenyatta's program administration of CACFP, among other federal programs, allowed HISD nutrition staff to bundle breakfast, lunch, snack and supper meals into our various distribution channels. These included: School curbside pick-up – maximizing non-congregate meals at district school sites; neighborhood supersites – curbside distribution in area eligible high school locations; apartment complexes – curbside distribution in area eligible apartment complexes; and campus megasites – Wednesday and Saturday distributions at district administration buildings, severe need area-eligible schools and athletic complexes. Lastly, Kenyatta arranged that HISD also partnered with the Houston Food Bank for a series of mass distributions, providing 3.2 million pounds of school meals and commodities for the Houston community.

Kenyatta Chandler approached the pandemic with operations, business and finances on her mind, and with children and families in her heart. She used CACFP waivers and other federal programs to create opportunity out of confusion. Her clearsighted approach to a complex issue earned Kenyatta a spot as a finalist for the Inspire Trailblazer award. Award winners were named during the 2022 National Child Nutrition Conference.