Cafeteria Employees Recognized as School Lunch Heroes

They are the frontline employees greeting students across the country everyday, providing a friendly face and a nourishing meal. They get to know the children by name and help create memorable meals and moments in the cafeteria.  

The national, non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) received hundreds of nominations of stellar cafeteria professionals and awarded six Regional Employees of the Year. The award was created to recognize outstanding school nutrition employees who exhibit a remarkable commitment to both their school meal program and the students they serve. Meet the 2022 winners, who will be celebrated together with colleagues across the country as part of School Lunch Hero Day on May 6, 2022:

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Cafeteria & Kitchen Managers’ Award Winning Efforts

Nutrition managers are often the glue keeping school meal programs running smoothly. They have risen to the challenges over the past two years, feeding children through school closures or remote learning, then managing supply chain disruptions and challenges to keep kitchens and cafeterias staffed. 

The national, non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) has awarded 2022 Regional Managers of the Year for their inspiring efforts. The award is considered the highest honor a school nutrition manager can earn. This year’s recipients will be recognized together with their colleagues across the country on School Lunch Hero Day, May 6, 2022:

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School Nutrition Program Directors Honored for Dedication

Constantly thinking about the needs of students in their communities, playing a pivotal role in reaching more students with school meals, collaborating and communicating effectively – these are a few of the ways those honored as regional Directors of the Year stand out in their school communities.

In conjunction with School Lunch Hero Day, School Nutrition Association is highlighting the achievements of those named Director of the Year from regions across the country.

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National Award Winners Celebrated as School Lunch Heroes

The non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) is celebrating the efforts of school nutrition professionals all week leading up to School Lunch Hero Day on May 6.  During an online award ceremony on May 2, SNA President Beth Wallace, MBA, SNS, announced national Director, Manager and Employee of the Year award winners, recognized for their dedication and outstanding commitment. Wallace says even faced with a second challenging school year because of the pandemic, these professionals prioritize the nutritional needs of the children in their schools first.

Robert Rolfe, School Nutrition Director for Henderson County Public Schools, NC, was named the National Director of the Year. Sharon Owensby, SNS, Catering Manager at Lee’s Summit High School in Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, MO, was named the National Manager of the Year. Stephanie Sheley, a cook at Holmen High School in School District of Holmen, WI, was named the National Employee of the Year

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Culinary Club adds Gardening to Keep Students Engaged

Cecilia Araiza has been working in school nutrition for more than two decades, innovating new ways to keep students engaged outside the cafeteria with nutrition education opportunities. When the resurgence of the pandemic halted her Madison Park Middle School (AZ) Culinary Club from being able to use the kitchen for its hands-on learning experiences, Araiza had the idea to take things outside with a gardening component for the weekly after-school program. 

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Composting in Virginia School Cafeterias

Students in six Prince William County Public Schools (VA) changed the way they threw out cafeteria trash as part of a pilot composting program started this school year. Instead of one trash can, there are multiple barrels in classrooms and cafeterias for food scraps, milk cartons, recyclable plastics and non-recyclables. 

Scraps of food are collected and recycled after lunch every day with a goal to reduce Prince William County’s environmental impact.

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Montana Made Marinara is a Hit on Lunch Menus

There were rave reviews from some young food critics when meatball subs with locally produced marinara were served at Belgrade School District #44. The sauce was made with ingredients grown on Montana farms and the initiative was started to help solve a problem brought on by supply chain shortages.  The goal was to have a product consistently available for school nutrition programs.

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