SNF to Honor School Nutrition Heroes



Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner  


SNF to Honor School Nutrition Heroes  


NATIONAL HARBOR, MD – The School Nutrition Foundation (SNF) has announced its 2015 School Nutrition Heroes, five remarkable school nutrition professionals who have dedicated their lives to expanding access to healthy school meals and serving the needs of their community.

The Heroes’ notable outstanding achievements include: launching purchasing cooperatives to connect schools with affordable, nutritious foods; leading legislative advocacy campaigns to expand access to school meals; establishing emergency shelters and food pantries to aid disadvantaged youth and community members; and running an apprenticeship program to teach young people to grow and prepare healthy foods. The 2015 School Nutrition Heroes are:

  • Coletta Hines-Newell, SNS, Director of Food Services, Arlington Heights School District 25, Arlington Heights, Ill.
  • Jill Kidd, MS, RD, SNS, Director of Nutrition Services, Pueblo City Schools, Pueblo, Colo.
  • Cathy Potter, Cafeteria Server/Helper, Maryville City Schools, Maryville, Tenn.
  • Robert Rusan, District Chef, Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, Maplewood, Mo.
  • Nancy Younglove, Food Service Director, North Rose – Wolcott Central Schools, Wolcott, N.Y.

“The 2015 School Nutrition Heroes are an inspiration to us all,” said School Nutrition Association CEO Patti Montague, CAE.” As schools nationwide seek new ways to meet the nutritional needs of students, so they are better prepared to succeed in the classroom, these Heroes are leading by example. We can all learn from their passion, dedication to their communities and willingness to go above and beyond to improve the health and well-being of the students they serve.”

These individuals will be recognized at SNF’s Celebration of School Nutrition Heroes, during School Nutrition Association’s 43rd Legislative Action Conference in Washington, D.C. “Too often, the remarkable work of school nutrition professionals - both behind the lunch counter and out in the community - goes unnoticed,” added Montague. “This special event is about bringing long overdue attention to School Nutrition Heroes, who are making a difference across the country.”

For information on purchasing tickets or tables at the Celebration, click here. Detailed description of the 2015 School Nutrition Heroes follows:

Coletta Hines-Newell, SNS
Director of Food Services, Arlington Heights School District 25, Arlington Heights, Ill.

Hines-Newell along with two colleagues started the Northern Illinois Purchasing Cooperative in 1995 with just 11 districts. Today the cooperative buying group has over 77 districts that work together to submit bids for food, supplies, bread and milk. Hines-Newell serves voluntarily as a Vice President for the cooperative. She won a Nutrition Education and Training award in Illinois for the “I Tried a Little” program which focused on getting students to try fruits and vegetables. She also started a “Food Around the World” reading program. Hines-Newell has been honored by the Illinois State Board of Education twice with “Those Who Excel” awards. She works with a special education cooperative to provide student training jobs and currently has students with special needs working in many of her kitchens. Hines-Newell has been an active member of the Illinois School Nutrition Association and has served on their legislative committee for many years. In recent years, Hines-Newell has started a charity called Many Hands Many Blessings with a mission to raise funds for local food banks.

Jill Kidd, MS, RD, SNS
Director of Nutrition Services, Pueblo City Schools, Pueblo, Colo.

Kidd has been a leader in public policy and legislative activities in Colorado for 16 years. Her efforts have supported legislation that provides $2.4 million annually in state funding for meal programs, as well as legislation that expands access to school meals for the children of Colorado. Approximately 32,000 students in pre-school to 5th grade no longer have to pay the reduced price at lunch and close to 63,000 K-12 students no longer pay the reduced price for breakfast. With Kidd’s help, the school districts in Colorado have obtained over $100 million in state funding for meal programs since 2001 and have successfully advocated for needed improvements in the Colorado Food Distribution Program. Kidd’s involvement  in public policy and legislation has included helping to set the legislative agenda for the Colorado SNA, testifying, working with legislators and teaching SNA members how to advocate for school nutrition programs. Through her efforts Colorado SNA members are confident and comfortable testifying and communicating with legislators at both the state and federal level.

Cathy Potter
Cafeteria Server/Helper, Maryville City Schools, Maryville, Tenn.

Potter established “Heaven Sent Home,” which has two shelters for the homeless. The emergency shelters, which opened in 2003, provide protection for men, women, and children who are displaced and/or abused and gives them a second chance. The program, which has served over 3,000 people, gives residents a clean and safe home, where they learn independent living skills and receive counseling. Some are suffering from addiction, some are escaping domestic situations at home, and some have lost jobs and are unable to pay rent. The shelters are “a helping hand up to people in need.” They are entirely operated by volunteers. No staff is paid and the homes receive no government funding. Potter is committed to “Heaven Sent Home” out of love and faith. Not only does she create meal programs for the shelters and coordinate holiday dinners for the needy, she also spearheads gift collecting and fundraising to support disadvantaged families in the community.

Robert Rusan
District Chef, Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, Maplewood, Mo.

One could say “cooking” is in Chef Robert Rusan’s genes. He comes from a three-generation catering service that started with his grandmother. But Rusan does more than “cook.” He is committed to teaching others about food and nutrition. He has started a program, called “Teen Kitchen,” in which he teaches apprenticeship students all the facets of gardening, harvesting, cleaning and cooking. Each school in the district has a garden and Rusan has a chicken coop where students participate in active learning. The middle school has a beehive from which the students collect honey, which Rusan uses as a sugar substitute in the school kitchen. Students learn firsthand about the specific foods in the garden, see how the foods are used in the kitchen, and learn how to prepare healthy meals for themselves and their families. In addition to food from the school garden, fresh produce and select meats from local farmers are purchased to use in preparing student meals. Chef Robert has worked with Share Our Strength “Cooking Matters” teaching cooking to daycare operators. Chef Robert participates in the district’s in-house food pantry, “Weekend on Wheels,” which provides home delivery of nutritious food packages to feed close to 100 families every weekend throughout the school year. He also participates in a similar program at his church, Unity United Methodist.

Nancy Younglove
Food Service Director, North Rose – Wolcott Central Schools, Wolcott, N.Y.

Younglove is the founder and Executive Director of the Cougar Cupboard Inc., an emergency food pantry located on the school campus. The program, which began in September 2012, was created when Younglove noticed a steady increase of students qualifying for free and reduced-price meals. The number of applications went from about three a month to two, three or four daily. The district where Younglove works serves a low-income, rural, and often migrant population. While the district offered national breakfast and lunch programs, along with an afterschool supper program, a large summer meals program and weekend “backpack” meal program, Younglove observed that children – especially at the high school – still were hungry. She started Cougar Cupboard as a student activity club where students could volunteer. Cougar Cupboard Inc. became a not-for-profit organization so that tax-deductible donations could be accepted in support of the food pantry. Cougar Cupboard Inc. is a partner with Foodlink of Rochester and the Food Bank of Southern Tier, both agencies of Feeding America, which is using Cougar Cupboard Inc. as a model for in-school pantry programs across New York State. Cougar Cupboard Inc. has expanded its services by sponsoring Mobile Food Pantries for Foodlink of Rochester. These community food distributions provide over 4,000 pounds of food each month to feed over 500 people. In addition to operating the pantry, Younglove also advocates at local, state and federal levels on the elimination of childhood hunger using Cougar Cupboard Inc.’s mission “To eliminate childhood hunger one child at a time by providing food for the body and mind with dignity and respect.”

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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