School Operation Services Group, Inc.
Barbara Nissel is president of School Operation Services Group, Inc. (SOS Group). SOS provides services in the area of technology, food service, classroom aides, and facilities.
Barbara has obtained degrees in education and nutrition from Drexel University and Immaculata College. Prior to SOS, Barbara worked for Great Valley School District. Before becoming Food Service Supervisor in 1988 she had been a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher, a restaurant operator, and a consultant to the American Heart Association. These career experiences in public service, business, and education, along with her academic studies, have provided Barbara with a terrific combination of qualifications for successfully taking charge of a school district’s food service department.
When Barbara was new to her position at Great Valley, members of PASBO and other directors helped her to learn the essentials of school foodservice. Since those early years Barbara has repaid the favor by mentoring numerous directors, both formally and informally. Possibly the most informal arrangement is with the 16 private and charter schools for which Barbara provides school meals: they frequently ask for her guidance regarding a wide range of issues. Barbara also answers questions for other directors in her role as Chair of the ASBO Food and Nutrition Committee. In addition, since the mid-1990s she has informally helped many directors through her participation in PASBO. The focus of her mentoring of fellow PASBO members is frequently based on the mentees’ needs to increase productivity and make their programs fiscally secure.
Drawing from several years’ experience with school gardening and utilization of local foods in her school meals program, Barbara also mentors for Project PA’s Farm to School project. As if that isn’t enough, Barbara is also working with 8 college interns (from West Chester U., Immaculata College, and U. of Delaware) during the 2010-2011 school year. Over the past 6 years Barbara has guided about 35 students in these programs. The schools inform Barbara of the competencies these Master’s degree seeking students need in order to be certified as registered dietitians, and she plans activities based on those requirements.
Barbara is looking forward to meeting new directors through this mentoring project. She plans to help them move forward even if they feel overwhelmed by the vast amount of State and Federal regulations, the enormity of the school meals program, and the pressure of keeping their foodservice departments in the black. She feels she is especially well prepared to share advice and resources in the areas of finance, school gardening, community relations, creative problem solving, and grant writing.
Barbara offers motivation for new directors: “School foodservice is an absolutely wonderful way to be of service to the students in your community. It offers the opportunity to put to work every creative idea and good business practice you can think of.” She encourages them, too: “As time passes you will feel great success and reward for the good you are doing.”