Welcome to the 2016 SNF Scholarship Series! We are thrilled to revisit this popular series, in which we connect with your SNA colleagues from around the country to learn more about them and how an SNF scholarship is helping them pursue goals and achieve their dreams. Our First Timer recipients were nominated by a supervising director to attend their first Annual National Conference in San Antonio, Texas. We’ll meet our First Timers and their directors in the weeks leading up to ANC. Please visit the SNA website to learn more about ANC 2016 in San Antonio.
When she first began working in school foodservice, Kyssia June was a food technician in the Sumter School District in South Carolina. June worked her way up from food tech to assistant manager, and then cafeteria manager at Wilder Elementary, a position she has held for nine years. June says her First Timer scholarship came as a complete—and welcome—surprise.
“We had a [staff] meeting and that’s when they let us know I had won the scholarship—I didn’t even know how it had happened!” she laughed. “I’m very excited I’m going, and that Mr. Williams nominated me.”
Leon Williams has been June’s manager for about four years. Williams became director of Sumter Schools’ foodservice program about four years ago, after almost 20 years working for the state.
“I worked for the state nutrition office for 19 years,” said Williams. “I was able to cross the whole state of South Carolina doing reviews of school districts, so it gave me a good idea of the differences in foodservice operations. In Sumter we have 26 schools with 26 cafeterias, and about 250 employees. We have about 17,500 students.”
Two things that most impress Williams about June are her work ethic and positive attitude. She needed to draw on both of those strengths when a kitchen remodeling project that was supposed to last just a few weeks stretched out to eight months, creating logistic challenges for the Wilder Elementary school nutrition staff.
“We started at the end of May in 2015 hoping we could be in the kitchen by September or October, but we didn’t get it finished until the end of March of 2016,” recalled Williams. “It meant we prepared meals in a nearby school and transported those meals to Kyssia’s school to feed the kids in the cafeteria. We did that for about eight months, and it was a real grind. Kyssia did a really good job managing and coordinating that effort. Having her come [to ANC] and nominating her for the scholarship is a bit of a reward!”
Of Williams, June says he’s a kind and good person who is always very concerned with the students’ well-being. She also appreciates how hard he works to provide excellent training for his staff members. As she looks ahead to San Antonio, June hopes to soak up as much of the total experience as possible.
“I’m looking for information on breakfast—I’d like our participation to be at 75 percent,” she said. “I also want to find different products for breakfast and for lunch. I’m really just looking forward to the entire conference. I want to meet different people and learn from their experiences. I enjoy working in school foodservice. Every day is different, and I’m always learning.”