Pamela Gallagher always had an interest and a career in foodservice. But, as she was starting her family some years ago, her mother, who worked as a schoolteacher, encouraged her to get into school nutrition.
“I fell in love with the industry,” she said. “I was feeding hungry kids.”
Fast forward more than 30 years and Gallagher – whose rewarding school nutrition career spanned three decades in the Philadelphia School District, Allentown School District and North Penn School District – is ensuring other school districts meet USDA regulations. In December 2019, she launched a North Wales-based consulting business, School Food Service Solutions, LLC.
“I wanted to share my knowledge in that field,” Gallagher said. “It’s a very highly regulated, complicated industry, but also rewarding.”
Soon after starting her side business, Gallagher began mentoring with SCORE Bucks County certified mentors Steve Wolfson and Richard Kroger for insight on scaling up her business. Her mentors also offered guidance on myriad business-related topics ranging from development of a business plan, financial and budget projections, and funding sources and grant opportunities.
“We met on a regular basis,” Gallagher said of her mentors. “It was like ‘this is what’s next. You conquered that.’”
SCORE volunteers provide no-cost mentoring services throughout the life of a business based on an individual business or entrepreneur’s unique needs. Wolfson has 40 years’ experience in wholesale distribution and has expertise in starting multiple business locations, while Kroger has more than 30 years of experience in banking and financial services as a commercial lender, business banker and SBA lender.
Wolfson lauded Gallagher for her willingness to follow through with suggestions and take her business fulltime.
“Starting in May of this year, she built up a strong customer base and contracts that took her into the school year with steady consulting and building up a reputation for a strong need to improve school food services,” Wolfson said.
Gallagher currently works with three charter schools in Pennsylvania to ensure that food service contractors follow USDA regulations. Through her business, she offers workshops throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, as well as food safety training and nutritional analysis of menus. As a retired school nutrition director, Gallagher can also serve in an interim role while a school district undertakes the often-lengthy hiring process to recruit another school nutrition director.
By focusing primarily on charter schools, Gallagher said she “found a niche.”
As her business continues to flourish, Gallagher is contemplating adding staff. She credits her guidance from SCORE, as well as her involvement in professional associations and industry connections with helping to scale up her business quickly.
“Don’t forget to use your connections,” Gallagher advised. “Talk to other people in the same business for advice and seek help from SCORE. These nonprofits are out to help people succeed.”