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Name: Thornton, Janey
Current Position: Former Administrator

On April 1, 2009, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, with the approval of President Barack Obama, appointed Dr. Janey Thornton the next Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services administers programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as Food Stamps), the Food Program for Women, Infants and Children, and the school meals programs

A native of Kentucky, Thornton earned a BS in home economics at Western Kentucky University, an MS in vocational education and school administration at the University of Kentucky, and a PhD in hotel and restaurant management from Iowa State University in 2007; her dissertation was titled, “Factors Influencing the Effectiveness of School Foodservice Programs.” 
Thornton was School Nutrition Director for Hardin County Schools in Elizabethtown, Kentucky (pop. 25,942), for more than 25 years. During this time, the district, which serves the entire county (pop. 97,949), doubled in size to more than 15,000 students. Thornton promoted to use of healthier foods in schools and initiated a few reforms, such as eliminating deep-fat fryers in 1995, establishing a central night bakery in 1992 to provide fresh-baked bread to students in the morning, and using locally grown produce whenever possible. 
Thornton has been active in the 55,000-member School Nutrition Association (SNA), culminating in her term as President during the 2006-2007 school year. She also served as President of the School Nutrition Foundation (a non-lobbying arm of the SNA) and was an active member of the Global Child Nutrition Foundation. She has held leadership roles in the Kentucky School Nutrition Association and was Chairwoman of the SNA Public Policy and Legislative Committee. In 2008, Thornton was a member of the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board, which advertises and promotes the drinking of milk.
Although the press has generally reported that Thornton was a non-controversial selection, in fact her appointment was criticized by those advocating nutritional reform in the school meals programs.   The critics contend that school food relies too heavily on the Agriculture Department’s commodity food programs, which they argue supply foods manufactured by large corporations whose products are unhealthily high in fats, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and calories. These reformers point out that while Thornton initiated some changes in Hardin County, the SNA, which is funded by agribusiness and large processed food manufacturers, has generally opposed far-reaching reform in school nutrition. 
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