SNA Celebrates National Award Winners for School Lunch Hero Day (Fri. May 6)



Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner  


SNA Celebrates National Award Winners for School Lunch Hero Day (Fri. May 6)  


NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - In preparation for School Lunch Hero Day, the non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) has announced national award winners in the school nutrition profession. This Friday, May 6, schools nationwide will celebrate these remarkable heroes and their own school nutrition staff for their compassion, creativity and dedication to expanding access to healthy school meals.

School Lunch Hero Day provides an opportunity to thank the school nutrition professionals who serve more than 30 million students each school day. “School nutrition professionals play such an important role in helping students succeed – from providing nutritious meals and inspiring healthy habits to making each and every student feel welcome in the cafeteria,” said SNA President Jean Ronnei, SNS. “SNA’s award winners embody the passion and dedication of these professionals nationwide.”

Employee, Manager and Director level professionals were nominated for awards at the state level, and those winners were considered for awards within seven regions across the country. Of those regional winners, the following were selected for SNA’s national awards based on their amazing efforts:

Patricia Embry from Hurricane Deck Elementary in Camdenton R-III School District, Mo., has earned the Employee of the Year Award. In 22 years at the school, Embry has held roles ranging from cashier to assistant cook. Despite her hearing impairment, Embry knows every student by name. She is eager to help students and often roams the cafeteria to check on them, offering a smile and words of encouragement. Embry is responsible for the fruit and salad bar and is known for her creative food art displays. During “Tasty Tuesdays”, Embry distributes samples of food items for students to taste and provides a voting board for students to share their opinion on the item. Embry keeps the cafeteria fresh and fun for students and staff, often volunteering her time to decorate for each holiday and season. Her efforts have not gone unnoticed, as students and staff recognized her with a “Just Terrific” award. Embry’s passion for food service has contributed to increases in breakfast and lunch participation.

Bonnie Schmidt of Morris Area High School in Morris Area Schools, Minn., has been recognized with the Manager of the Year Award. Schmidt is known for bringing school spirit to the cafeteria - repainting the walls in school colors, encouraging staff to dress up for school events, and even organizing a flash mob dance with students during Homecoming week. Schmidt opened the cafeteria to all district staff members, who are impressed by the quality and selection of food. Each year, she invites elementary students to the high school cafeteria to collaboratively cook a meal. In addition, Schmidt is passionate about the summer food drop program for low-income families. Using the food items provided, she develops recipes for families to help them make the most of the food they receive. Schmidt serves as a mentor to new staff members and welcomes their ideas. She prioritizes the wellness of her staff, bringing in a yoga expert to teach techniques for relieving stress and preventing pain from standing in lunch lines. As president of her local SNA chapter, Schmidt stays on top of new developments in the school nutrition industry and values the importance of a well-trained staff.

Lucretia Chancler, MS, LDN, RD, SNS, Supervisor of Child Nutrition for St. Landry Parish School System, La., earned the Director of the Year Award for transforming the school nutrition program, benefitting both students and staff. To improve technology in the cafeteria, Chancler installed new point-of-sale touch screens, bar code scanners and temperature monitoring systems. For parents, she purchased online meal payment and free and reduced price meal application systems, as well as nutritional analysis software to accommodate students with allergies and special diets. She sought out and secured marketing, equipment and Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program grants. Chancler implemented an afterschool supper program and expanded the summer feeding program – delivering meals by bus directly to communities in need. Chancler coordinates training sessions for her staff, ensuring they can safely and efficiently operate kitchen equipment. To increase efficiency, she creates work schedules and provides an employee handbook. With the help of her staff, she has created a five-year improvement plan to ensure continued success in her district. Chancler seeks development opportunities and is an active member of the local SNA chapter.

SNA has teamed up with Jarrett J. Krosoczka, author and illustrator of the popular LUNCH LADY graphic novel series, and Random House Children’s Books to celebrate all of America’s school nutrition professionals through School Lunch Hero Day. Students, faculty and parents across the country will show their appreciation with thanks, cards and recognition for their cafeteria staff. Visit for more information.

SNA is also announcing the following regional award winners. National, regional and state level award winners will all be honored in July during the Awards Ceremony at the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Employee of the Year:
Mideast: Carla Morehead, Marshall County Schools, West Virginia
Midwest: Patricia Embry, Camdenton R-III School District, Missouri (National winner)
Northeast: Maki Koetting, Lincoln Public Schools, Massachusetts
Southeast: Shanta Lawson, Houston County Schools, Georgia
Southwest: Rita Wobker, Paola Unified School District 368, Kansas
West: Janet Clark, Salt Lake City School District, Utah

Manager of the Year:
Mideast: Evie Hess, Vermilion Local Schools, Ohio
Midwest: Bonnie Schmidt, Morris Area Schools, Minnesota (National winner)
Northeast: Timothy Kenaley, Oyster River Cooperative School District, New Hampshire
Northwest: Jean Simmons, Everett Public Schools, Washington
Southeast: Donna Richard, Daviess County Public Schools, Kentucky
Southwest: Catherine Francois, Orleans Parish School Board, Louisiana
West: Luis Morales, Salt Lake City School District, Utah

Director of the Year:
Mideast: Teresa Baker, Raleigh County School District, West Virginia
Midwest: Susan Malesa, Menasha Joint School District, Wisconsin
Northeast: Jeanne Sheridan, SNS, Blackstone-Millville School District and Acushnet Public Schools Massachusetts
Northwest: Katherine Dumas, Bellevue School District, Washington
Southeast: Carol Young, RD, SNS, McMinn County Schools, Tennessee
Southwest: Lucretia Chancler, MS, LDN, RD, SNS, St. Landry Parish School System, Louisiana (National winner)
West: Brenda Padilla, Sacramento City Unified School District, California

About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing 56,000 school nutrition professionals across the country. Founded in 1946, SNA and its members are dedicated to making healthy school meals and nutrition education available to all students. For more information on school meals, visit


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