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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After School Cooking Classes Expand Learning

Students in two eastern Ohio districts have the opportunity to make snacks and simple meals for their families in an after-school cooking program that combines kitchen basics and recipes with educational lessons. The students make everything from pizza and parfaits to pies and salads, and learn how they can prepare food at home, letting parents join in the fun. 

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Connecting Classroom to Cafeteria in CT

When a student going through the lunch line asked why there was a potato in the fruit basket, Kate Murphy, SNS, Food Service Director for Naugatuck Public Schools in Connecticut, had an “ah ha moment.” Realizing that the child didn’t recognize a pear, Murphy determined more had to be done to support nutrition education.

While researching ideas for CT Grown for CT Kids Week, Murphy identified resources available from local farmers that could be used to create lesson plans. She knew it had to be something kids would be interested in – that’s when she got her big idea: pickles!

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Celebrating Thanksgiving in school cafeterias

Thanksgiving meals are being served up in school cafeterias across the country, despite widespread supply chain disruptions making it difficult for schools to get everything from entree items and juice to lunch trays and sporks.  Through the dedicated efforts of school nutrition professionals, delicious and nutritious Thanksgiving celebrations are bringing smiles to students, with regional and cultural favorites on the menu for special holiday meals.

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In Challenging Year, School Meal Program Directors Shine Bright

Celebrating excellence in leadership and commitment to oversee thriving school meal programs, the national non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) has awarded 2021 Regional Directors of the Year. These dedicated individuals led expansive efforts to manage emergency feeding programs during COVID-19 and transition meal service between remote, hybrid and in-person learning models to ensure students’ access to healthy meals.

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