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NATIONAL HARBOR, MD (May 1, 2015) – As schools nationwide celebrate School Lunch Hero Day, recognizing the efforts of their dedicated cafeteria staff, the non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) announces winners of national professional awards. Highlighting leaders in all facets of school meal program operations, these award winners represent the vast array of professionals going above and beyond in their commitment to improve and expand access to healthy school meals. School Lunch Hero Day provides an opportunity to thank the school nutrition professionals who serve healthy meals to more than 30 million students each school day.
As students, faculty and parents across the country show their appreciation today, SNA reveals the 2015 national award winners. Employee, Manager and Director level professionals were nominated for awards at the state level, and those winners were considered for awards within seven regions across the country.
Of those regional winners, the following were selected for national awards based on their amazing efforts:
Ann Roberson’s upbeat attitude and inspiring work ethic has earned her the Employee of the Year Award and a place in the hearts of students and staff at Pierce County High School in Georgia. Ann has excellent rapport with her students, connecting with each of them as they come through the cafeteria and making an extra effort to engage any students sitting alone. She’s known as a team player, quick to take on new responsibilities, support her coworkers and promote a positive work environment. Ann goes above and beyond, developing new, healthy recipes and volunteering to spearhead the expansion of the district’s summer meal program into local churches, successfully increasing the program’s reach by 7,000 meals.
Lizabeth Randall, SNS of Wayzata Public Schools in Minnesota has earned the Manager of the Year Award for her constant focus on improving the cafeteria experience for students and staff. With student wellness in mind, Lizabeth redesigned the serving lines and developed a visual labeling system to encourage students to select more fresh fruits and vegetables. To help guide young students navigate the cafeteria, she produced informative videos and hosts Parent Forums throughout the school year, showcasing serving lines and foodservice operations. Wayzata’s Culinary Express team also appreciates Lizbeth’s efforts to improve staff training and professional development.
Leah Schmidt, SNS, of Hickman Mills C-1 School District in Missouri has earned the Director of the Year Award. As nutrition services director, Leah has focused on expanding access to healthy meals for students, implementing Grab and Go and Universal breakfast programs, starting the first supper program in the state and helping establish a weekend BackSnacks program to benefit families in need. She revitalized the menu with offerings like Roasted Chicken Curry, Sweet Potato Crusted Fish and fresh Chef Salads. With the support of her devoted staff, the district has increased the number of healthy meals served by 82%. Leah has also hired a registered dietitian to conduct nutrition education in the classroom, partnered with local farmers on student events and coordinated a wellness mentoring program among teens and elementary students. Leah served as 2013-2014 School Nutrition Association President. “School nutrition professionals are at the forefront of ensuring access to nutritious meals that help students succeed, inspiring healthy eating and establishing positive school environments,” said SNA President Julia Bauscher, SNS. “SNA award winners embody that commitment and dedication.”
SNA has teamed up with Jarrett J. Krosoczka, author and illustrator of the popular LUNCH LADY graphic novel series, and Random House Children’s Books to celebrate all of America’s school nutrition professionals through School Lunch Hero Day. “From their friendly greetings in the cafeteria to the love they dish out with each meal, school cafeteria staff are truly heroes,” said Bauscher. Visit www.SchoolLunchHeroDay.com for more information.
SNA is also announcing the following regional award winners. National, regional and state level award winners will all be honored in July during the Awards Ceremony at the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference in Salt Lake City, UT.
Employee of the Year:
Mideast: Jennie Lynn Czerwinski, Marshall County School District, WV
Midwest: Mari Peters, Westonka Public Schools, MN
Northeast: Bonnie DiPasquale, Uxbridge Public Schools, MA
Southeast: Ann Roberson, Pierce County Schools, GA (National winner)
Southwest: Kathy Brown, Little Rock School District, AR
West: Colleen Dietz, Provo City School District, UT
Manager of the Year:
Mideast: Earliene Klapka, Harford County Public Schools, MD
Midwest: Lizabeth Randall, SNS, Wayzata Public Schools, MN (National winner)
Northeast: Carolann Begley, North Penn School District, PA
Northwest: Kim Klapel, Northshore School District, WA
Southeast: Julia Perkins, Franklin County School District, TN
Southwest: Karlin Price, Seaman School District # 345, KS
West: Shelley Montgomery, Roswell ISD, NM
Director of the Year:
Mideast: Sue Whitaker, Huron City School District, OH
Midwest: Leah Schmidt, Hickman Mills C-1 District, MO (National winner)
Northeast: Susan Maffe, RD, SNS, Meriden Public Schools, CT
Southeast: Rhonda Cooper, SNS, Pierce County Schools, GA
Southwest: Shelly Copeland, SNS, Spring ISD, TX
West: Jenilee McComb, Provo City District, UT
About School Nutrition Association: The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing 55,000 school nutrition professionals across the country. Founded in 1946, SNA and its members are dedicated to making healthy school meals and nutrition education available to all students. For more information on school meals, visit www.SchoolNutrition.org/SchoolMeals.