Dining Director Receives Distinguished Service Award

Dining Director Receives Distinguished Service Award

Janet Despard Named NACUFS 2018 Minah Distinguished Service Award Winner

Janet Despard receives award

The Theodore W. Minah Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor NACUFS bestows upon an individual in recognition of their outstanding and enduring contributions to NACUFS and the foodservice industry. Each year, following a nomination process, nominees are evaluated and one recipient is chosen by the board of trustees and the past presidents to receive this prestigious award. On the evening of July 12, the second day of NACUFS 2018 National Conference, Amy Beckstrom, NACUFS’ immediate past president, presented the Minah Distinguished Service Award to Janet Despard of University of Northern Iowa.

Despard’s career in college and university food service began in 1993 at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota as a catering supervisor. She had an impressive career path with that institution, moving into the role of residential dining manager, then associate director, and finally to director in 2004. She became Director of Dining Services at the University of Northern Iowa in 2016. Despard has made numerous contributions to NACUFS including regional president, national president, board member, and numerous committee positions.

Despard has also been actively involved in allied foodservice industries, such as the National Restaurant Association, the School Nutrition Association, the American Dietetic Association, and a bi-state advisory group that works to improve access to safe, nutritious, and affordable food for all residents. Some examples of her contributions for the advancement of foodservice include career development of personnel, contributions to vocational school, high school programs, career days, etc.

Despard also places great value on the need for contributions to the community as a whole. She volunteers weekly at hospitals, nursing homes, health fairs, and church and school events.

“I am so grateful to the past presidents and the board of trustees of NACUFS for presenting me with this year's Theodore W. Minah Distinguished Service Award. NACUFS has been a huge part of my professional life and I am deeply humbled by this recognition,” says Despard.