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 you have been working in school nutrition for twenty years and you’re about to attend your very first Annual National Conference, you can’t choose just one thing to get excited about, said ANC First Timer award winner Teresa Dorondo.
“Oh my gosh—I am excited for everything,” she told us. “Carla Hall will be there, and she’s so interesting to me—I want to know how she eats so much and stays pencil thin! The big closing night with RAIN also sounds wonderful. I want to see the Alamo, too! I haven’t even had time to sit down and look at the [education sessions] but I have a lot of decisions to make there—there is so much to choose from.”
When we asked Dorondo’s nominating supervisor Becki Wicks why she submitted Teresa’s name for consideration for the 2016 award she told us that Dorondo’s dedication to their summer meals program inspired the nomination.
“Teresa expressed interest in attending the conference, and I chose her because she’s been [in school foodservice] for quite a while,” said Wicks. “What really stood out for me is her involvement in our summer foodservice program. She’s a production manager, and she’s involved in every aspect of [the program] from planning menus to scheduling to choosing sites. She makes sure everything runs smoothly.”
Dorondo came to school nutrition at Hillsborough County Public Schools as a sort of “second career” after working for Techtronics, and then staying home with her own children for five years.
“I started twenty years ago with a little three-hour part-time job—something to do while the kids were at school,” she recalled. “Through a series of events I became kitchen manager within two years. I’ve worked at the grade school, middle school, and high school level.”
In order to attend ANC, Dorondo and her co-workers were asked to write a short statement about why they wanted to attend this year’s national conference in San Antonio. She almost didn’t submit an essay, but decided to go for it, thinking, ‘Why not?’
“I wrote [in my essay] that this is my twentieth year, and what better way to celebrate twenty years with the district than attend my first national conference?” said Dorondo. “I’ll be retiring in three or four years, and I thought this might be one of my only chances to go to national. I threw my hat in the ring, and here I am!”
When she hits the ground in San Antonio, Dorondo says she’ll definitely be in search of information on summer meals programs, as well as advice from fellow SN professionals who are running summer foodservice programs. Learning from her peers is one of the most exciting aspects of attending, said Dorondo.
“I’ve been doing our summer program for sixteen years now, and I really want to see what other people are doing with their summer feeding programs. We see 45,000 meals every summer, so it’s a huge program. There is a real need, so I like to see what other folks are doing around summer feeding and learn from them.”