November 5, 2012 – Melanie Konarik, MS, SNS, RTSBA, Director of Child Nutrition, Spring Independent School District, Houston, Texas, has been named the 2013 Golden School Foodservice Director of the Year in the annual FAME (Foodservice Achievement Management Excellence) Awards competition. The FAME Awards have been honoring innovative school nutrition professionals and allies for the last 24 years.
The Golden School Foodservice Director demonstrates outstanding achievement in leadership, spirit/dedication, innovation, career awards, management systems, humanitarianism/community involvement and bettering the lives of students.
As this year’s Golden School Foodservice Director of the Year honoree, Konarik has nearly 30 years of experience leading her suburban Houston school nutrition program through a wide array of innovative changes. Her progressive approaches—and a passionate commitment to staff development—has earned Konarik many well-deserved honors; among these, her operation earned SNA’s first District of the Year award.
Konarik is a model mentor to her own staff, as well as colleagues in Texas and across the country. In addition, she continues to be a leading change agent for healthier school meals and successfully advocated for a universal free breakfast program throughout her district, as well as the elimination of the reduced-price charge at lunch. Other innovations range from a popular and effective nutrition education program for middle school students that involves feed “junk” food to rats to an early launch of a credit card payment system for families to a nine-month manager-in-training program.
Konarik has served in numerous volunteer positions at state and national level. She is the current Secretary/Treasurer on the SNA Board of Directors and a member of SNA’s Spokesperson Network.
Five other school nutrition professionals were lauded by the FAME selection panel, which included winners of the 2012 competition, as well as the editors of School Nutrition magazine and other trade publications and SNA President Sandra Ford, SNS.
The 2013 winner of the Silver Leadership Award is Lori Drenth, RD, SNS, director of food and nutrition services, Hernando County School District, Brooksville, Fla. This award recognizes a director who demonstrates outstanding leadership, dedication, fiscal achievement and innovation in menuing/merchandising.
FAME’s Silver Spirit Award is given to a person in a management position who demonstrates a commitment to the people and programs of child nutrition through the development and execution of innovative programs in marketing, training, customer service, and/or staff motivation. Amy Harkey, RD, SNS, child nutrition assistant director, Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Schools is being recognized for her efforts as the 2013 winner of this award.
The Silver Rising Star Award recognizes and encourages the next generation, honoring a director with three or fewer years’ experience. Jim Hemmen, executive chef and child nutrition services supervisor, Roosevelt School District, Phoenix, Ariz., has been named this year’s recipient.
FAME’s 2013 Silver Special Achievement Award winner is Robert Lewis, PhD, director of nutrition services, El Monte (Calif.) School District. This honor is bestowed on a director who shows innovation in districts with 10,000 or less student enrollment.
This year’s Silver Friend of Child Nutrition Award, which recognizes an outstanding supporter or advocate of school nutrition programs, is Gary Vonck, vice president, education division, KeyImpact Sales & Systems, Naperville, Ill., and the current Industry Representative to the SNA Board of Directors.
In addition, the third honoree of the Gertrude Applebaum Lifetime Achievement Award, selected exclusively by the FAME sponsors, is Frank Harris, now-retired after decades of service as child nutrition director for Norwalk (Conn.) Public Schools, but still a passionate advocate for universal school meals.
The 2013 FAME Awards are made possible with the generous support of Basic American Foods, Schwan’s Food Services, Inc., and Tyson Foods, Inc. The awards will be presented at an event on January 13, 2013 at the Westin Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas, in conjunction with SNA’s Child Nutrition Industry Conference (CNIC).
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