Do you know a school nutrition professional who goes above and beyond their daily duties to make a positive impact in their community? Nominate them for a 2017 School Nutrition Hero Award! With just one month left to submit your nominations, we need your help to identify the school nutrition heroes among us! The nomination deadline is Friday, October 21, 2016 and our 4th Annual Celebration of School Nutrition Heroes will take place on Monday, April 3, 2017, during SNA’s Legislative Action Conference in Washington, D.C.
School Nutrition Heroes aren’t simply doing outstanding work in school nutrition; a School Nutrition Hero goes beyond doing their job, creating positive, lasting change in their community. Past winners have raised money for childhood cancer awareness, created “clothing closets” for students who need everything from formal wear to graduation gowns, and a chef who jumped into school nutrition with both feet, creating school breakfast programs, a school garden, and meet-the-chef events to raise the profile of his district’s child nutrition program. Let’s meet some of our past Heroes!
Meet Our Past Heroes
We reached out to some of our previous classes of School Nutrition Heroes to get their thoughts on why the award was so meaningful for them, and how it has helped them amplify their efforts in their own communities. Jody Houston is the director of food services at Corpus Christi ISD, and a 2016 School Nutrition Hero. We reached out to Houston to ask her about the impact of her Hero Award, and she replied:
“Receiving the School Nutrition Hero Award was an amazing honor for me. The recognition from the Foundation and the memorable evening were outstanding. For me, the most unbelievable part was that I was honored with so many deserving individuals who contribute so much to their communities. The experience makes me want to be a better person, and I want to thank everyone who played a part in my receiving this prestigious award!”
We also spoke with 2016 School Nutrition Hero Sam Ingram about the impact winning the award had on her efforts to raise awareness—and money—for childhood cancer and cancer research.
“I’m constantly being asked about the award. It makes me blush even now! Just last Friday at the football game a woman asked me about my award and my trip to Washington, and told me she was proud of me. I feel like a celebrity in our small town!
[Director] Stephanie [Dillard] and I went to Phoenix City, and she had me speak at an SNA meeting. I talked about my experience in Washington, D.C., and what it meant to me. I did get to talk about John-Dylan’s scholarship, and I told [the audience] to look around because I know in their lunchrooms there is someone who is putting forth that extra effort, trying to do something for the whole community.
After I came back from Washington, D.C., I received three or four donations from people I met while I was there, and it ended up totaling somewhere around $1700. People saw my story and wanted to help us continue the scholarship fund, and to continue to share John-Dylan’s memory.”
Chef Robert Rusan is a caterer-turned-chef working in Maplewood Richmond Heights School District in St. Louis, Missouri, and a 2015 School Nutrition Hero. When we reached out to ask Rusan what winning a School Nutrition Hero award meant to him, he shared the following:
“I’m a catering chef who came from a family of caterers, but never thought about school food. You would think that after going to school all my life, and going through the cafeteria line, I would have a clue—but I didn’t!
Winning the School Nutrition Hero award meant the world to me. It has brought an extra light about the importance of not only what we feed our kids, but how we feed our kids. Receiving national recognition for an award? Robert Rusan has never been nationally recognized for anything, okay?! Since I received this award I’ve had calls from principals, I’ve met with superintendents, and a lot has come out of this award.
Receiving this award is not a one-time thing. You’re a national spokesperson, and people will recognize that. Now we have visitors coming in to see what we do. Sharing this experience is a great opportunity to share the experience and importance of the School Nutrition Association.”
Submit Your Nomination Today
With just one month left, we’re issuing a call for nominations! Simply visit the SNF website, download the nomination form, and submit your School Nutrition Hero for consideration by Friday, October 21, 2016. Our 2017 Heroes will be honored during SNA’s Legislative Action Conference; our Celebration of Heroes is the only fundraising event the School Nutrition Foundation holds, which means this evening is essential for securing funding for scholarships that the Foundation provides to SNA members annually. Support your peers, your colleagues, and your profession—submit your nomination today!