SNA Regional Employees of the Year Announced on School Lunch Hero Day

While cafeteria employees are often the most visible school nutrition professionals, they don’t always get recognized for the tremendous work they do. They are the heart and soul of the cafeteria experience for students of every age – we all remember our favorite School Lunch Hero. It’s that time again, when we give those lunch ladies and gentlemen their much-deserved recognition! The national, non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) has paired down from thousands of nominations of deserving candidates and awarded six Regional Employees of the Year, an award that was created to recognize outstanding school nutrition employees who influence the quality of school meals through customer service.

Regional Employees of the Year also show a strong interest in young people, cooperation, work attendance, creativity, participation in professional development and their willingness to go the extra mile. The following employees were awarded the top spot for their regions.

Connie Cummings from Clearfield High School in Davis School District – Utahunnamed

Connie Cummings has worked for 32 years to make her school’s cafeteria a positive and welcoming environment for her students. She takes great pride in the appearance and cleanliness of the kitchen and cafeteria, spending each spare moment finding something that needs a deep cleaning. With no plans to retire anytime soon, Cummings has made it her mission to help coordinate and administer new programs, along with training staff. She is known for serving her warm breakfasts and nutritious lunches with kindness and love.

Trish Dawson 
from Morton Middle School in Fayette County Public Schools – KentuckyIMG_4380

Trish Dawson is known by colleagues for bringing her bright and cheerful attitude to work every day. Dawson is second in command to help with concerns and or issues as they arise in the school cafeteria. She has handled very fragile food allergy situations and reassured many parents/guardians that their children will be safe eating school lunch. She also goes out of her way to ask the students for feedback on the menu options served. She started up a new kitchen in the fall of 2016, helping to serve over 1,000 meals a day and 700 portions of fresh fruits and vegetables up to three times per week.

Christina Hartman from Hillside Elementary School in Needham Public School – Massachusettsunnamed-3 copy

Christina Hartman does all that she can to boost the confidence of the students she sees everyday. She loves being on the frontlines, according to her colleagues, so she can interact with the students and teachers daily. It is important to her to be part of the school community, working with the school staff so that they have a great experience in the cafeteria. She uses different knife techniques and creative ideas to display the fruit, veggies and other foods artistically, especially during the holidays. The students love to see what Hartman will come up with every holiday, which keeps them engaged and excited to eat healthy foods.

Krystal Schaetz from Winona Senior High in Winona District #861 – Minnesota


Krystal Schaetz has excelled at being creative in the cafeteria, not only with her choices for the menu, but also creating a positive atmosphere for her students and fellow staff members. She has dedicated her time to improving the school meal experience for Winona students, helping with the design of the new “Healthy Express Lane”, planning promotions for National School Lunch Week, homecoming, World Kindness Week, winter spirit week and Fuel Up to Play 60 Game On Week. Having just started her school nutrition career last school year, Schaetz has already taken on the great task of lead cook to provide meals to more than 900 elementary students. These meals are prepared at the high school and delivered to six satellite kitchens.

Marsha Schultz from Paola High School in Paola Unified School District 368 – Kansasunnamed-4 copy

Marsha Schultz takes her role as the Bread Department Head seriously, striving to teach her colleagues and students the value of home baked breads, adjusting recipes and preparing for each day’s menu. Schultz goes above and beyond, like in her efforts to lead food service staff making trays of quick breads, cinnamon rolls and scones for American Education Week. She then coordinates putting the trays together and labeling them all for delivery by the district school superintendent. Her suggestion to host Holiday and Spring Bake Sale fundraisers, has enabled Paola School District to send between eight and nine district staff members to the SNA Annual National Conference.

In July, all 21 Regional Award winners and the top three National Award winners will be honored during the Awards Ceremony at the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference in Atlanta, GA.

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, May 5. Students, faculty and parents across the country will show their appreciation with thanks, cards and recognition for their cafeteria staff. Visit for more information.

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