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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School Nutrition Employees Recognized for Their Efforts

Whether handing out lunches in the rain or driving to student homes to drop off a week’s worth of school meals, school nutrition employees have truly gone above and beyond their typical duties this past year to ensure children are nourished and ready to learn. The national, non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) received hundreds of nominations of stellar cafeteria professionals and awarded five Regional Employees of the Year. The award was created to recognize outstanding school nutrition employees who positively influence the quality of school meals through exemplary customer service. Meet the 2021 winners, who will be celebrated together with colleagues across the country as part of School Lunch Hero Day on May 7, 2021:

Marcia Rosa, kitchen assistant at Elkton High School in Cecil County Public Schools, MD, the Mideast regional Employee of the Year.

Marcia Rosa, the Mideast regional Employee of the Year, packing school buses full of school meals that will then be distributed around town.

Even if other lines are shorter, students will wait in line to see Rosa – a testament to the kindness and care she shows them. Out of three cafeteria lines, she usually serves about half of the day’s lunches and more than three-quarters of a la carte sales. She helped implement more grab-and-go options and loves to try new products in her line. When the school added a smoothie machine, Rosa walked around the cafeteria handing out free samples of the different flavors to entice more participants and future sales.

During the pandemic, she immediately stepped up to ensure children in the community had access to healthy school meals. She worked to package meals for families to pick up, personally deliver meals to homes and even ride the bus to deliver to food insecure neighborhoods.

Her supervisors describe her as irreplaceable and a definite leader in her school. She creates a positive environment for co-workers, always willing to lend a helping hand and patiently training new hires. Rosa goes out of her way to promote the meal program to school staff, letting them know about new entrees, reminding them when their favorite lunch is on the menu and answering questions.

Rosa joined SNA to increase her level of professionalism and continue her education and training. She enjoys networking with fellow school nutrition professionals and learning from others in the field.

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School Kitchen and Cafeteria Managers Awarded for Performance

The dedication and ingenuity of school nutrition managers has been on full display this past year as they balanced challenging schedules, ever-changing COVID-19 regulations, staff shortages and food order limitations while keeping cafeteria operations running smoothly. In recognition of their outstanding hard work and dedication, the national, non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) has awarded the 2021 Regional Managers of the Year.

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National Award Winners Celebrated for School Lunch Hero Day

There’s no stopping the non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) from celebrating its Director, Manager and Employee of the Year national award winners! During the first-ever virtual event, “Our Heroes: Celebrating the 2021 SNA Award Winners” on May 5, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, author/illustrator of the LUNCH LADY graphic novel series, joined SNA President Reggie Ross, SNS, in revealing the national award winners and celebrating all school lunch heroes.

These annual awards recognize the dedication and outstanding commitment of school nutrition professionals from around the country who have gone above and beyond the call of duty for their students and school meal programs. Countless school nutrition professionals stepped up and worked their magic to ensure children had access to healthy meals during COVID-19 school closures and transitions between remote and in-person learning. Three national award winners and 13 regional award winners will be celebrated in conjunction with an appreciation campaign for those widespread efforts on School Lunch Hero Day (SLHD) on Friday, May 7.

From the nominations received, state winners were selected and then regional winners were determined through blind review process. Of the 13 regional winners this spring, the three national winners were chosen for their exemplary service during this challenging time of atypical school meal program operations.

SNA recognizes Anna Apoian of California as the Director of the Year, Amber Ott-Underdown of Pennsylvania as Manager of the Year and Christine Edelstein-Dodds of Massachusetts as Employee of the Year. These three national winners are recognized as heroes in their districts, with pride in their profession and dedication to their students’ health and to the success of their school meal programs.

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2020 Regional Employees of the Year Celebrated As Frontline Heroes

With each smile or kind word, cafeteria employees make a difference in children’s school days. This spring, those smiles are hidden under masks, but they are still there. The national, non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) received hundreds of nominations of stellar school nutrition professionals and awarded six Regional Employees of the Year. The award was created to recognize outstanding school nutrition employees who positively influence the quality of school meals through exemplary customer service. Meet the 2020 winners: Read more…

Managers of the Year Recognized For Dedication to Students

Adjusting school foodservice to emergency feeding operations following COVID-19 school closures, managers of school cafeterias are using their multitasking skills to ensure students have access to healthy meals.  In recognition of their outstanding hard work and dedication, the national, non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) has awarded the 2020 Regional Managers of the Year, considered the highest honor a school nutrition manager can earn. The award recognizes cafeteria managers who have demonstrated dedication and ingenuity to improve his or her school meal program. Read more…

Nutrition Directors Recognized for Leading Teams Through Thick & Thin

The national non-profit, School Nutrition Association (SNA), has awarded the 2020 Regional Directors of the Year, celebrating individuals for excellence in leadership and commitment to school meal programs that thrive under their direction each day. While the nomination process for these awards began before widespread COVID-19 school closures, the expansive efforts of school nutrition directors to manage current emergency feeding programs also deserve the accolades and honor these awards represent. Read more…

National Award Recipients Excel to Meet Evolving School Foodservice Needs

To coincide with School Lunch Hero Day, the non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) on Friday announced its annual Director, Manager and Employee of the Year winners. These awards recognize the dedication and outstanding commitment of school nutrition professionals from around the country that go above and beyond in service to their students and school meal programs. While schools have closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these foodservice heroes have continued their mission to feed America’s children in difficult situations – one curbside pickup, bus drop-off or home delivery at a time. Read more…

More Heroic Than Ever Amid School Closures

It may look a little different this year, with school closures and empty cafeterias, but the celebration of School Lunch Hero Day (SLHD) on May 1, 2020, has never been more important. Among the frontline heroes in the COVID-19 pandemic, school nutrition professionals have continued to step up to the crucial task of feeding America’s children.

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The school nutrition staff at Northside Independent School District (TX) are serving 27,000 meals a day during school closures because of COVID-19. They’re sure not letting social distancing and protective gear dampen their spirit!

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School Lunch Hero Day Celebrates Cafeteria Professionals

With each smile or kind word, cafeteria employees make a difference in children’s school days. Their hard work and dedication can go unrecognized, but not on May 3, School Lunch Hero Day! Help celebrate these deserving and beloved lunch ladies and gentlemen! The national, non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) received hundreds of nominations of stellar school nutrition professionals and awarded six Regional Employees of the Year. The award was created to recognize outstanding school nutrition employees who influence the quality of school meals through customer service. Meet the 2019 winners: Read more…