MNPS Voices: Andrea "DeeDee" Stratton

MNPS Voices: Andrea "DeeDee" Stratton, Nutrition Services Manager
Posted on 11/02/2022
DeeDee Stratton in school cafeteria.

The halls at Stratton Elementary School are filled with smiles and “hellos” from both the staff and the students. Andrea “DeeDee” Stratton will tell you it’s always like that. The friendly and welcoming environment is one of the many reasons she has chosen to stay at the school that shares her name for 10 years and plans to stay until her retirement. D. Stratton in school cafeteria

In October 1990, Stratton went in for an interview with MNPS on a Wednesday or Thursday and started as a cafeteria cashier at Whites Creek High School that following Monday. She has been with the district in the Nutrition Services department ever since.

Today, 32 years later, Stratton is a Nutrition Services Manager at Stratton Elementary, Bellshire Design Center and Madison Middle. She has overseen this group of schools for the past 10 years, with stints at a few other MNPS schools, including McGavock High, John Early Middle and Whites Creek High. Born and raised in Nashville, Stratton also attended MNPS schools and graduated from Maplewood High in 1982.

Today is a busy day for Stratton – it’s oven-fried chicken day, a new employee is starting at Madison Middle, and she’s also training a new manager. Stratton says her phone rings from the time she gets in to when she leaves.

She stays busy overseeing the meal programs at each of her schools. Every day, she manages the cafeteria staff, ensures health and safety standards are met, carries out inventory and food orders – all while often training new employees and filling in where needed. 

Many things have changed with MNPS and the Nutrition Services department over Stratton’s tenure, but what has remained consistent is her work ethic and commitment to bringing healthy meals to every student who goes through the cafeteria line.

Each meal offered by MNPS must meet specific nutrition requirements, something that may not always available at home. Stratton takes pride in seeing students take advantage of the school meals she and her team serve daily and knowing that the students eat a balanced diet.

School meals are an essential need for students and their readiness to learn. Stratton knows that students need full, healthy meals to perform at their best, and she’s happy to provide them.

“It’s all about the students and knowing that when they eat, they’re happy,” she said.

Stratton Elementary, Bellshire Design Center and Madison Middle have special spots in Stratton’s heart. What she loves most about the schools are the staff and students she gets to see every day. She says she has the full support of the staff at each school and speaks of them as if they were family.

Stratton with the nutrition services staff

When asked about someone she looks up to, Stratton will quickly say Dr. Braina Corke, the assistant director of Nutrition Services. Corke and Stratton started at MNPS around the same time, 32 years ago, when Corke was working payroll and Stratton was a cashier.

“In all my years of working with Dr. Corke, I have never seen her mad, upset or short,” Stratton said. “You can call her anytime, and she will be there to listen and help. She is the last one to leave and the first one to get there in the morning.”

Stratton will say she’s generally a plain person. She orders chicken tenders and fries when she goes out to a restaurant (Texas Roadhouse has the best), she enjoys shopping with her friends, and she loves to watch tennis in her free time – even if she already knows who wins.

But when you ask her hero, Corke, about her, Corke will say Stratton is a spirited person “who cares about each student that participates in the meal program at her schools. She firmly believes her students deserve the best each day, and she and her teams deliver each day.”

Stratton’s coworkers and friends will agree that she is a passionate, fundamental member of MNPS and is anything but plain.

Healthy No-Cost Meals for MNPS Students

Every year Metro Nashville gets new food items, and Stratton always looks forward to giving students new items to try and hearing their thoughts. This year, some of the new favorite breakfast items are the apple cinnamon toast and the chocolate croissant.

Stratton and MNPS Nutrition Services recognize the diverse food preferences and needs of each student. They offer a wide array of food options for students to choose from, including vegetarian and gluten-free meals. Every meal offered also prioritizes a healthy diet focusing on fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean proteins.

Many students rely on the MNPS nutrition services program as a source for a healthy, consistent meal. All MNPS schools serve a free breakfast to all students, and this 2022-23 school year, all students are offered lunch at no cost through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). Students who stay after school for any reason – whether in a tutoring program, after-school club, or just because they missed the bus – can also go to the cafeteria and receive a meal at no cost.

While breakfast and lunch school meals are no cost this year, families who qualify for Free & Reduced meals should apply online or submit paperwork provided through their school, because the program also helps connect families to things such as:

  • discounts for fees associated with college application processes
  • scholarships and fee discounts for SAT, ACT and AP tests
  • benefits such as SNAP and Families First

School menus are available online.

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