Indiana School Kitchen Manager Dedicates Life To Helping Those In Need

The non-profit School Nutrition Foundation (SNF) has recognized Patricia “Patty” Urbanczyk, Kitchen Manager at Edison Elementary in the School City of Hammond (IN) as one of five national School Nutrition Heroes in 2018.

Nominated by her peers, Patty was chosen by SNF to represent the many professionals who have dedicated their lives to serving the needs of school children and the community. 2018 School Nutrition Heroes hail from all over the United States.

In charge of filling her students’ stomachs with the healthiest school meals possible, Patty was instrumental in the success of Edison Elementary’s ‘backpack’ program last year to support students in need. She went above and beyond, ensuring that the students who received backpacks also received a holiday food basket along with a Christmas CD to bring these children and their families some holiday cheer. This past December alone, she handed out 168 baskets of food to members of the community who were in need.

Patricia Urbanczyk Headshot
Patty Urbanczyk, Kitchen Manager, School City of Hammond (IN)

Her care and passion for her community reach outside the school too. Last year, a local family with six children lost their home to a fire. Despite making a very modest salary, Patty and her mother purchased brand new school uniforms for these children and started a clothing collection drive for the family. She called upon her church to help this family in need, which led to more donations of clothing, beds, dining room tables/chairs, other furniture and dishes and money to be raised for the family. She often accomplished these amazingly generous feats on her own time, with nothing but love of community and compassion for her fellow Hammondites pushing her to do it.

“Patty is the epitome of an ordinary individual doing extraordinary things for the children and families of Hammond, Indiana,” said School City of Hammond Director of Food and Nutrition Services Christine Clarahan. “Patty has a huge heart for all of the students and staff that she works with. Kitchen managers (across the country) are some of the hardest workers and just doing their jobs is a herculean task, but Patty embodies the School Nutrition Hero concept. She has a very big heart and inspires me because she never gives up on herself, her staff or her students who need her.”

When talking to staff, they often sing her praises, commenting how Patty has created an atmosphere of professionalism, pride and kindness. She worked her way up from cook to kitchen manager. Patty’s son Joshua is a cook at one of the School City of Hammond’s secondary schools and said his mother inspires him to “try to make a difference in the lives of those in need.”

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Always striving to make the cafeteria a healthy and exciting place for her students, Patty and her staff dressed up for Halloween.

“Patty’s love for this job and her passion for her students and the community is what makes her a School Nutrition Hero,” said School Nutrition Association CEO Patricia Montague, CAE. “Patricia is on the frontline everyday and it’s her positivity that resonates with the children she feeds and the staff she manages.”

All of the 2018 School Nutrition Heroes will be recognized at SNF’s Celebration of School Nutrition Heroes, during School Nutrition Association’s 46th Legislative Action Conference in Washington, DC in March. The annual Celebration is SNF’s signature and sole fundraising event to support the Foundation’s education, research and scholarships for school nutrition professionals.

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