Meet Robert Buchanan
PUSD Food and Nutrition Director
By Steven Law
Robert Buchanan took over as the director of food and nutrition for the Page Unified School District in mid-July.
Buchanan moved to Page from San Jose, California, where he was assistant director of food services for San Jose State University. Buchanan moved to Page because it gave him the opportunity to evolve into a directorial role.
Buchanan admits he had doubts when it came to moving to a small town like Page. Buchanan spent the first 34 years of his life in Chicago and most recently lived in the Bay Area. He’s used to large crowds, tall buildings, cityscapes, and the generous assortment of amenities one only finds in a big city.
But the more interested he was in Page, its surroundings, and the new job opportunity, the more convinced he was to take the leap. “Being a director really appealed to me,” he said.
Outside of work, Buchanan enjoys photography, hiking, camping, and writing poetry. Page and its surroundings could offer these opportunities on a scale he had never experienced before. Buchanan is happy with the choice he made to move to Page.
“I’m surprisingly shocked at how much I love Page,” Buchanan said. “I love the vibe of a small town and how friendly everyone is to me. The people are really nice. It was a little weird for me how friendly people were to me. It’s something they didn’t have in the Bay Area.
Buchanan says his co-workers give him lots of ideas on where to go and what to do, and usually follow up with him on Monday morning to see if he’s out.
Buchanan will soon be implementing a new program at Page High School called Discovery Kitchen. To get there, he will hire a new chef who will create new dishes and discover new menus. The creation of the menu will involve the contribution of PUSD which will serve as taste testers. If students like the new menus, then they could be added to the school lunch menus.
“It’s the creative part of the job. I like working in this round, ”Buchanan said. “We can be creative and we can involve the students. “
Buchanan also has a busy life outside of work. He is the author of two books: one is a poetry book he wrote in his twenties, titled Blue Emotions, and the other is about personal responsibility and taking positive action to improve his life. , titled Letter-9. In construction.
“Letter-9, under construction, is going from action to zest, or from A to Z,” Buchanan said. “It has 52 chapters, one for each week of the year.”
The book was born out of motivational texts Buchanan sent to his friends every morning. “I did it for about three months, then I got busy and stopped doing it,” Buchanan recalls. “I didn’t even realize my friends were reading them until I stopped doing it. Then I got a bunch of texts saying, “Hey, where’s my cover text? “”
It was then that Buchanan thought he might be on to something bigger and decided to take what he was doing and expand it into a book. “I thought it would be just a little short book,” he said, “but it grew and grew. I kept getting ideas that I wanted to add to it.
It took him four years to complete the book version, but an electronic edition of the book is still in progress. The electronic edition of the book is intended to be interactive. It encourages the reader to journalize, to contemplate their own life and their own actions and the consequences these actions have had on their lives. As a reader weaves their way through the electronic publishing of the book, keeping a journal as they go, it allows them to be the author of their own life story.
Letter-9 followed the publication of Blue Emotions, a collection of spoken poems.
“Spoken poetry was important in Chicago,” Buchanan said. “It was the real poetry seen in Chicago.”
Buchanan’s interest in oral poetry came from watching a movie called “Love Jones,” part of which centered around the Chicago poetry scene of the 90s.
“I really connected with it,” Buchanan said. “I started writing poems and playing them in a cafe called Rituals.“
Buchanan and his friends attended open mics of spoken poetry twice a week. “Sunday was the big day,” he said. “I tried to have a new poem ready to go every Sunday.”
Buchanan’s poetry comes from his life. “I spoke of love, of politics, of being a man, of being black. As a poet, I wrote what I felt. I used to title my poems but I stopped doing it. I could start with some intention, but the poems often took on a life of their own. “
Buchanan published his first poem when he was ten or eleven years old. The poem was published in the Chicago Tribune as part of a school writing project.
“It was a very proud moment for me, and it was the first time my father told me he was proud of me. He had to buy 50 newspapers the day my poem appeared and distributed them to everyone he knew.
As involved as Buchanan is in literature and literary life, you would expect to hear that he majored in English, or journalism, but he graduated in business administration from
Robert Morris University, and attended graduate school at National Louis University, Chicago.
“Poetry was actually my liberation from all this school and all this work,” he said.
Buchanan says continuing to write and evolve the electronic edition of Letter-9 is his current exit from professional life.
“When I come back and read it, it still rings true for me. It takes root from where I was and how far I have come in life.