Deborah Jeffers Retires from Salem Public Schools

Deborah Jeffers Retires from Salem Public Schools
Posted on 01/08/2021

We are both excited and sad to announce to the Salem Community the retirement of our much-loved Director of School Nutrition Services, Deborah Jeffers.  Deb has worked for Salem Public Schools for 28 years, including the last ten years as Director.  Deb worked tirelessly to ensure that all students have access to healthy meals each day and to address the food insecurity challenges faced by so many of our families here in Salem.  

She paved the way for Salem to be one of the first districts in the state to adopt the Community Eligibility Provision of the National School Lunch Program which allows all SPS students to eat breakfast and lunch at no charge.  She established a Breakfast in the Classroom program for Salem’s elementary schools and launched the Summer Food Program to address the needs of families during the summer months with over 16 distribution sites available for local families.

Among her many achievements, her legacy includes the leadership and advocacy she provided to create a sustainable district-based School Nutrition operation.  She was able to do so by successfully leveraging grant funding available through state agencies, including our most recent grant that will allow us to purchase a Food Truck to work in the community delivering meals and providing nutrition education.  She also brought back scratch cooking to our cafeterias ensuring less processed food and more fruits and vegetables as well as other locally produced foods.

Deb will also be remembered for the innovative partnerships she established with outside agencies including Project Bread, Root, the Salem Food Pantry, Farm to School, and Food for Thought, all in service to the department’s mission of providing healthy and nutritious meals to students and families.  In 2018, she received the “Root Community Leadership Award” celebrating her dedication to her work. She was also the recipient of a Farm to School Certificate of Appreciation.  Deb has also received multiple citations from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and our local State Senator and Representative.

Deb Jeffers is a true pioneer in school nutrition. She is responsible for bringing the Summer Food Service and Farm to School programs to Salem, and thanks to her efforts, all SPS students receive free breakfast and lunch. But Deb's passion and commitment to making sure no child goes hungry has never been more evident than in 2020. She and her team have worked tirelessly since March to feed families during the pandemic, serving hundreds of thousands of meals at multiple sites all over Salem. As both a colleague and SPS parent, I am so grateful to Deb for all she has accomplished. Congrats to you, Deb! -Kerry Murphy, MS, RDN, Health & Wellness Coordinator, Salem Board of Health 

Please join us in thanking Deb for her service to our district. As of January 1, Irv Perrin, our Assistant Director of School Nutrition, will serve as Acting Director of the Department as we conduct a search for a permanent replacement this spring.

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