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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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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