Celebrate Diane Buchanan, 2022 Alaska School Nutrition Association Administrator of the Year

district-highlights - 2022 02 08 HL Diane Buchanan SNS Administrator of the Year

The statewide award recognizes her commitment and dedication to school nutrition! Fun fact: every day KPBSD Student Nutrition serves a daily average of 1,200 breakfasts and 3,200 lunches!

For thirty years, Diane Buchanan has worked in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, a diverse district the size of West Virginia, with 42 schools, some only accessible by boat or plane. Starting as a student nutrition cashier in 1992 at Soldotna Junior High, for the past six years, she has served as the Student Nutrition Services Supervisor, where she oversees food nutrition services, school kitchen management, free and reduced lunch applications, and menus among other responsibilities.

During the past two years of the pandemic, she and her team stepped up to provide “Get It and Go” lunches when schools were in remote learning, juggled supply chain issues of not receiving food, and kept school meals served every day that school has been open in person. In 2020, at the start of the pandemic, the Governor of Alaska announced the shift of all schools to remote learning after spring break. Immediately, district leadership asked what can we do to provide meals to students, since so many families rely on school meals. The Director of Planning and Operations called Diane, and everyone went to work over the weekend. KPBSD was proud to offer “Get it and Go Meals” and an online ordering service that began the Tuesday after that 2020 spring break.

An avid quilter, she creates beautiful art, she is a beekeeper, goes along with her family on hunts, rides her four-wheeler, enjoys gardening and flowers, is active in her church, and loves time with her grandchildren.

In her words…

Advice to her younger self, or current students
Always have a job and work for a living and no matter what job you have, always give 110%. You do not have to have a college degree to have a job in field you have interest so keep searching for the opportunity to get into a field of work you enjoy.

How I got started…
My career in student nutrition started when I wanted a job that would allow me to be on the same schedule as my children, and allow me to volunteer in their school. I started in student nutrition not expecting it to be my life’s career choice, but after these many years I realized that this was something I really enjoyed and will have a hard time leaving.

Facing challenges
When the pandemic hit, the student nutrition staff was asked to work at different kitchens as a group preparing hundreds of sack breakfast and lunch meals each day for the students of KPBSD. The staff worked together without any questions or complaints and like all of us not knowing what this really was or when it would end. The staff would stand out in all types of weather for an hour each day handing out meals to families as they drove up.

I would like to thank the many student nutrition staff who I have worked with over the last 30 years. The KPBSD student nutrition staff are a remarkable bunch of people that quietly feed the students every day without much recognition of what they have accomplished each day.

Her team says, “These last two years working through the Covid-19 challenges have been trying to say the least. Diane’s leadership has been extraordinary. It is obvious Diane love her job, and she loves numbers! Diane has shared her knowledge of the ins and outs of Student Nutrition. When she retires she leaves big shoes to fill, all of which has become second nature to her. She will be greatly missed.”

“For over 30 years Ms. Buchanan has provided outstanding service to the district and all of our students,” said Superintendent Holland. “During the last two years, Diane worked through school closures, staffing issues, and supply chain shortages to make sure our students have access to food. The geographic diversity and size of our district makes this even more impressive! Congratulations to Ms. Buchanan for this well-deserved recognition. We are incredibly proud of her and all of our student nutrition services employees.”


KPBSD Student Nutrition