Speaker Bio

Rita Denton

Rita Denton

Executive Director of Student Nutrition

Rita Denton, a stalwart in the K-12 Food Service industry, brings 15 years of dedicated experience to her role as the Executive Director of Student Nutrition for Mansfield ISD. Her journey in the realm of student nutrition commenced as the Assistant Director of Food Service for Northwest ISD with Aramark Education, followed by a stint as the Director of Food Service for Burleson ISD. Rita's passion for crafting enjoyable and nutritious meals for students has been a driving force throughout her career.

Before delving into the student nutrition industry, Rita served as a food and beverage manager for Hyatt Hotels, overseeing five distinct restaurant concepts. This rich background in hospitality management laid the foundation for her transition into K-12 Food Service, where she found her true calling in creating engaging and flavorful dining experiences for young minds.

Since joining Mansfield ISD in January of 2015, Rita Denton has spearheaded a transformative shift in school menus, prioritizing scratch cooking with fresh ingredients. Under her visionary leadership, the department has implemented initiatives such as community summer feeding programs, farm-to-school collaborations, family-style dining, salad bars, and coffee bistros, enriching the overall student dining experience.

Mrs. Denton's commitment to her community is evident in the statistics, with the department serving an impressive average of 21% of enrolled students at breakfast and an outstanding 73% at lunch. This reflects her unwavering dedication to ensuring that students receive not only nourishing meals but also an enjoyable and varied culinary experience.

In terms of education, Rita Denton earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Management from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2006. She furthered her academic pursuits, completing her MBA from LSU Shreveport in August of 2019. Rita actively contributes to professional associations, being a proud member of the Student Nutrition Association (SNA), Texas Association of School Nutrition (TASN), and the Texas Association for School Business Officials (TASBO). Her commitment to professional development is evident through her role as a teacher of professional development classes for TASBO and ESC XI.

Rita Denton's leadership has been recognized and celebrated within the industry. In 2015-16, she served as the President of the Child Nutrition Director’s Association of North Texas. She earned the Shining Star award at the district level in 2016 and, more recently, was honored with the FAME Silver Leadership Award, a testament to her outstanding contributions in the field.

Beyond her professional pursuits, Rita proudly resides in Mansfield, TX, with her husband Jay and their four beautiful young children. Her commitment to community extends to her role on the Mansfield Mission Center board of trustees, where she actively contributes to giving back and making a positive impact on the lives of those she serves. Rita Denton's multifaceted career and community involvement showcase not only her dedication to student nutrition but also her passion for enriching the lives of others.