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Shirley Watkins served as Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1997 – 2001, the first African-American woman to hold that position. Prior to that she was Director of Child Nutrition Programs for Memphis City Schools for seventeen years. She served as president of ASFSA from 1988 – 1989. She now works with Southern Educational Services, a consulting business concerned primarily with environment friendly school food service cafeteria operations.

Shirley Watkins Bowden sat for an update to her oral history interview with Jeffrey Boyce on May 22, 2014, at the National Food Service Management Institute while she was participating in a seminar covering the first twenty-five years of the Institute’s operations. This update is included at the end of the interview.

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University, Mississippi


Child Nutrition, School Feeding


Food Science | Other Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development

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Shirley Watkins Bowden



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