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Graduate Finds Meaning in Providing Wholesome Meals for City’s Students

As food service manager for the New York City Department of Education’s School Food program, Gregory Secor ’02CPS found a career that melds his culinary talents and managerial skills with his commitment to serving others.

Secor oversees production of meals for some 3,200 students daily at three Queens, NY, public elementary schools and one public junior high school, as well as one local parochial school. “Considering how important good nutrition is for children, my job is very fulfilling,” he said. “These meals make a difference, especially for the students whose only meals are those they get at school.”

In addition to directing day-to-day operations at five kitchens, Secor supervises 30 employees, plans and reviews menus for compliance with US Department of Agriculture (USDA) standards, and tracks inventory. He also teaches student seminars on nutrition and wellness twice a year.

Secor’s interest in food service was sparked by his high school part-time job in the kitchen of St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Bayside, NY, which caters to young people suffering from autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.

“I found out that I not only loved working with food,” he said, “but that I also received pleasure from the patients’ joy in the meals I served.” In addition to his position at the DOE, he works at the hospital’s Nutritional Services Department on a part-time basis.   

After high school, Secor briefly studied criminal justice at Nassau Community College. He ultimately decided, however, that he would find more satisfaction pursuing a career in food-related services. He transferred to St. John’s to pursue the Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Management in the University’s College of Professional Studies.

“St. John’s was the right place for me in so many ways,” he said, citing the program’s emphasis on training students for day-to-day managerial operations, preparing them to work with a cross-section of administrators and staff, and understanding financial management.  “I worked in the daytime and took classes at night, so I was particularly impressed by the University’s understanding of the needs of students who held jobs.”

Secor’s bond to alma mater is further strengthened by the fact that his wife, Nicole, is employed in the University’s Office of Marketing and Communications. He and his family have participated in University activities such as Sponsor a Family and volunteer at St. John’s Bread and Life Soup Kitchen.

“As a St. John’s alumnus, I always feel a sense of pride and community,” he said. “I feel deeply connected with current and past students.”