Herstory: Three women share their histories in food service

In our first 19 years of business, we’ve seen women promoted, and watched them grow their careers. In fact, our very first employee was a woman, Sharon Cravens, and she is the Director of Dining Services at Central Methodist University, which was also Fresh Ideas first college and university dining contract. In 1987, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month. Inspired, Fresh Ideas decided we would like to introduce you to three of the many extraordinary and talented women in our organization.

Many careers paths can be pursued at a food service company of our size. You’ll get to know Susan, a director at one of our units, Kandace, a chef, and finally Maria, controller at our headquarters.

Susan Nawrocki

Susan Nawrocki | Director of Dining Services
Susan Nawrocki has been in the food industry since her teens. She began working with her mom, a banquet manager. Nawrocki spent around 18 years working for another family member in the food service business, her sister. She helped her entrepreneurial sister execute catering events and open cafes. A café she led for her sister’s company was often cited by new clients as to why they wanted to go into business with her sister. Susan’s love of people is what has kept her in the dining services world. That love has impacted her sister’s company and Susan’s own career. That affection for her customers and team is why she was entrusted in a leadership position to run one of Fresh Ideas first Chicagoland contract dining accounts. The food service business can be tough, so what’s her advice to those looking for a fruitful career like hers: To stick with what you enjoy. Susan finds joy in her role as a director of dining services at Judson University and says leading a team brings her a great sense of accomplishment.

Kandace Tosh

Kandace Tosh | Chef 
Kandace’s journey as a culinary wonder at our Southwest Baptist University account started 12 years ago. On the advice and urging of another woman, she applied at the college dining hall around 12:30 one weekday. It was the lunch rush. She would quickly discover there were no openings. But the Fresh Ideas management team knew of Kandace’s reputation and would end up creating a position for her. Tosh spent the next decade training and learning each position in the dining hall. She has continued that determination and dedication and will complete her online culinary training through the Fresh Ideas Rouxbe program in April. She says Rouxbe will “…make me a true, certified chef.” If you ask Kandace about her favorite part of the day, you’d think she would talk about putting her feet up or sitting down for a meal, but for her, it’s the staff meeting and the hunger to get to know each of her team a little better.

Maria Scruggs

Maria Scruggs | Controller
Maria is part of the Fresh Ideas corporate office staff. Her job as a controller means that she oversees the company’s financials, making sure our accounting practices are accurate. A female colleague nominated Maria, and spoke about her devoted work ethic, describing her as hardworking and inspiring, with regards to how she treats her work family. When asked about this Maria revealed the challenges she has faced and overcome. To her work ethic, she shared that a job well done is impactful to everyone. An example of her tenacity made her glow with pride. She shared that she overcame a language barrier, and secured her CPA license. Scruggs is originally from the Dominican Republic, and English is a second language for her. The immense amount of preparation and studying for the CPA Licensure exam is daunting in and of itself for most, but to then take the four-part test as a non-native speaker is an accomplishment. It’s a testament of how any woman who does something every day to work toward her goal can be successful.

Susan, Kandace, and Maria are just a few of the many talented women who are contributing to our organization’s history and culture. Most of the job categories within the Fresh Ideas workforce are composed of well over 50% female. We’re proud of the diversity the women in our company bring to the table. We believe in helping women advance in the workplace by supporting professional development, and by providing skills training. The women of our food service company are making history in their own careers, and opening doors for others. We know they are a perfect example of why to recognize Women’s History Month.

Interested in joining our Fresh Ideas family? Check out our current opportunities and apply online.