SNF to Honor Five National School Nutrition Heroes

 

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Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner  

301-686-3124  

media@schoolnutrition.org  

SNF to Honor Five National School Nutrition Heroes  

 2017-01-05

SNF to Honor Five National School Nutrition Heroes Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner, media@schoolnutrition.org, 301-686-3124 Summary: SNF has announced the national recognition of five 2017 School Nutrition Heroes for their efforts as positive role models in school nutrition. SNF to Honor Five National School Nutrition Heroes

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD – The non-profit School Nutrition Foundation (SNF) has announced the national recognition of five 2017 School Nutrition Heroes for their efforts as positive role models in school nutrition. The Heroes were nominated by their peers and chosen by SNF because they epitomize the many school nutrition professionals who have devoted their lives to serving students and their communities.

The 2017 School Nutrition Heroes are making a difference in a variety of ways. Notable achievements by this year’s Heroes include establishing temporary residences for those in need; building a functional farm for students with cognitive and physical disabilities; and creating various school gardens, Farm to School and locally sourced food initiatives.

The 2017 School Nutrition Heroes are:

  • David Schwake, MS, RD, SNS, Food Service Director, Litchfield Elementary School District #79, Litchfield Park, Ariz.
  • Timikel Blakey Sharpe, MS, Deputy Director of Food Service, Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Doreen Simonds, Food Service Director, Waterford School District, Waterford, Mich.
  • Elizabeth Whidden, Child Nutrition Program Manager, Hoover City Schools, Hoover, Ala.
  • Betti Wiggins, Executive Director of Office of School Nutrition, Detroit Public Schools Community District, Detroit, Mich.

“In each of their communities, these School Nutrition Heroes are leading by example,” said School Nutrition Association CEO Patricia Montague, CAE. “They have gone above and beyond their job description and have worked tirelessly to support the communities they serve. Their passion and dedication are commendable, and their exceptional efforts will have a lasting impact.”

The recipients will be recognized at SNF’s Celebration of School Nutrition Heroes, during School Nutrition Association’s 45th Legislative Action Conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday, April 3, 2017. The annual Celebration is SNF’s signature and sole fundraising event to support the Foundation’s education, research and scholarships for school nutrition professionals.

Learn more about the 2017 School Nutrition Heroes:

School Nutrition Foundation's 2017 School Nutrition Hero

David Schwake, MS, RD, SNS
Food Service Director, Litchfield Elementary School District #79, Litchfield Park, Ariz.

In addition to working to provide a healthy environment for Litchfield Elementary School District students, David also volunteers his time for various local organizations. He started multiple initiatives in his district, including a backpack program and the creation of school gardens, along with the support of the local Kiwanis Club. A board member of the Association of Arizona Food Banks for nine years, David helped them find opportunities to educate communities, schools and parents about available resources, including the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) and afterschool programs. He is currently in his third year as board president for Aqua Fria Food & Clothing Bank and is a past board member of the Saint Mary’s Food Bank Alliance (SMFBA). During his time with SMFBA, David was instrumental in their Kids Café program, which has continued to grow over the years, serving thousands of children breakfast, lunch and afterschool. David volunteers his time every other Saturday to coordinate a mobile pantry at one of his district’s schools and has recruited volunteers from his local Kiwanis Club.

School Nutrition Foundation's 2017 School Nutrition Hero

Timikel Blakey Sharpe, MS
Deputy Director of Food Service, Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles, Calif.

A native of Montgomery, Alabama, Timikel has never forgotten her roots. In 2008, determined to reduce the number of homeless families in her hometown, Sharpe opened the “Vision of Grace Transition Home.” The Sheridan Heights home became a place of refuge for local homeless families, providing them with a safe, temporary space to live. Through hard work and use of her own resources, Timikel purchased and furnished the three-bedroom home with everything a family needs. She achieved 501(c)3 status within three years of purchasing the home, making it tax-exempt, and has used some of her retirement savings to keep the home financially stable. In 2015, Timikel’s outreach grew further, allowing her to remodel, furnish and open a second home with three bedrooms to help her in her mission to reduce homelessness in Montgomery.

School Nutrition Foundation's 2017 School Nutrition Hero

Doreen Simonds
Food Service Director, Waterford School District, Waterford, Mich.

Described as a “charismatic, yet humble leader” with “relentless energy,” Doreen has dedicated 31 years to the Waterford School District. Spearheading a district-wide Farm to School program, Doreen created three school gardens and partnered with Oakland County Farmers to provide fresh Michigan produce on the schools’ menus. She created various learning environments for students, producing effective educational programs through a reading wall with nutrition books and edible school gardens to learn how to grow, harvest and prepare local ingredients. In 2011, Doreen created a “Food and Fit Committee,” a wellness team made up of physical education teachers, nutrition staff and students. The team has supported multiple initiatives throughout her district, including “Jump and Jill” and HOP Sports activity programs. Doreen’s efforts extend beyond school nutrition, setting up field trips to local farmers’ markets, arranging a free “Smile Dentist” to provide kids with dental treatments and holding annual book swaps.

School Nutrition Foundation's 2017 School Nutrition Hero

Elizabeth Whidden
Child Nutrition Program Manager, Hoover City Schools, Hoover, Ala.

Liz began her career in child nutrition in 2011 and was quickly promoted to Child Nutrition Manager thanks to her efforts to create a positive and healthy environment for staff members and children alike. Dedicated to her students, Liz has held a perfect work attendance for the past three years and has earned a perfect Health Inspection Score for her cafeteria. In her role, she encourages healthy choices through decorated bulletin boards, and works closely with Hoover City School’s student gardens. Donating seeds from her mercantile store, Liz also promotes healthy and locally sourced options for the greater community. Through that store, she is dedicated to serving the homeless and those in need, donating hygiene kits and basic supplies. She is often seen seeking out those on the streets who might benefit from her help.

School Nutrition Foundation's 2017 School Nutrition Hero

Betti Wiggins
Executive Director of Office of School Nutrition, Detroit Public Schools, Detroit, Mich.

In the eight years she has been with Detroit Public Schools Community District, Betti has transformed the district’s nutrition and food delivery system. She is a native Detroiter and one of the founding board members of the Detroit Food Policy Council, which nurtures the development and maintenance of a sustainable, localized food system and a food-secure city of Detroit. Through the Office of Nutrition, Betti has also established the nationally recognized Detroit School Garden Collaborative, which placed raised-bed gardens in 82 schools. The Collaborative staff also provides work-based skills training for students at Randolph Career and Technical Center. Using her love of fresh produce and her formal degree in nutrition from Wayne State University, Betti has been instrumental in helping Detroit students gain access to healthy options. She is a board member of the National Farm to School Network, working with Eastern Market, one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the country. She also worked with Greening of Detroit to develop school garden education programs. Betti developed and built Drew Farm at Drew Transition Center, a school for 18 to 26 year olds with cognitive and physical disabilities, helping to produce more than 20,000 pounds of food each year for school lunch trays and to help those in need.


About the School Nutrition Foundation
As the philanthropic sister organization of the School Nutrition Association (SNA), the School Nutrition Foundation (SNF) is dedicated to securing financial resources for education, professional development, scholarships and research in school nutrition. SNF focuses on providing the resources that educate and empower SNA members to provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the nation to foster an environment where children achieve overall wellness and lifelong success.

 

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