When I asked Toni Watkins for an interview, I thought we’d catch up on her big move six years ago from Texas to Virginia where she became the system food and nutrition services director for Riverside Health System. The move took Toni from a large acute-care hospital in Dallas to a health system with 16 facilities, including long-term and senior care.
I thought we’d focus on that transition and how she was doing through the COVID pandemic. But we didn’t. Even though the pandemic has rocked all of our world’s this past year, it wasn’t the only force impacting our worlds. The death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer and the ensuing racial justice movement affected foodservice at a time when they were already in the throes of COVID.
So when Toni joined me for a chat the morning after the verdict in the death of George Floyd, I was thrilled to hear she had a story to share about diversity in foodservice, righting wrongs and rallying around a foodservice worker. So often we talk about foodservice employees serving their customers, but this was truly a story about caring for each other—as people. Here’s her story.