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Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner


SNA Celebrates National Award Winners for School Lunch Hero Day (Fri. May 4)


NATIONAL HARBOR, MD – In preparation for School Lunch Hero Day, the non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) has announced winners of national awards recognizing an exceptional school nutrition director, manager and employee for their efforts. This Friday, May 4, schools nationwide will celebrate all school nutrition heroes for their dedication to expanding access to healthy school meals and show appreciation with thanks, cards and recognition.

The three SNA national award winners, along with their peers who have been recognized with regional awards, exemplify what it means to be a school lunch hero. SNA continues to work 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, on the first Friday in May each year.

“Through the hard work and dedication of our school nutrition professionals, students are provided with healthy meals and compassion in the cafeteria,” said SNA President Lynn Harvey, EdD, RDN, SNS. “Every year, we are wowed by an amazing pool of nominees; SNA award winners prove that great work is being done in school districts big and small, in urban and rural settings across the country. School nutrition professionals are making a positive difference in the lives of students each school day.”

Employees, managers and directors 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 as SNA’s 2018 national award recipients based on their amazing efforts:

Debra “Kay” Flynt from Goodyear Elementary in Glynn County School System, GA, has earned the Employee of the Year Award. Flynt has become known as the top bread maker in Glynn County schools, always there to help train each school kitchen to create “the perfect roll” for district students. Goodyear also has one of the highest consumption rates of fresh fruits and vegetables, something supervisors attribute to the colorful displays that Flynt creates for students. She is a true community builder, dedicating her time and efforts to improving the school meal experience for Goodyear students every day. Whether providing extra prizes on lucky tray day, donating life-sized stuffed animals or embroidering students’ names on items that they can win, she finds ways to go above and beyond her food service assistant duties. Each special occasion is made much more exciting with Flynt’s serving line decorations, including her life-sized Santa greeting students at Christmas-time or the tailgate tent she created for students to walk through during the school’s Sports Week. In addition to giving her time, Flynt has anonymously paid off students’ lunch accounts when she can.

Jerrilyn Hernandez from Orofino Junior-Senior High School in Joint School District 171, ID, has earned the Manager of the Year Award. Hernandez has made it her mission to research various grants to support new ways of offering healthy options in the cafeteria. Through those grants, she has implemented several successful initiatives, including a new smoothie and yogurt parfait maker, an a la carte kiosk and a salad bar, which has helped increase student consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Hernandez also helped implemented a Breakfast in the Classroom program, increasing breakfast participation from 16 percent to 89 percent at the school. She is responsible for more than just her school building cafeteria, also overseeing food delivery to two smaller, more remote school sites in the district. Over the past several years, she has also taken on the responsibility of training all 20 district staff on maintaining production records, which has led to greatly improved accuracy.

Constance Little, SNS, Nutrition Services Supervisor for Beavercreek City Schools, OH, has earned the Director of the Year Award. Celebrating 21 years as a member of SNA and eight years as a supervisor, Little brings a great deal of nutrition knowledge and operations savvy to the district, creating a more efficient nutrition services program. Little has implemented many cost-savings initiatives while ensuring her schools provide quality foods and great customer service. Little has also sought and secured over $38,000 in grants, including one for the creation of The Beavercreek Breakfast Club in the high school, a program which increased student participation by 15 percent. A few of her legacies include a great training program she developed called, “A Trip Down the Yellow Brick Road-Learning the Meal Pattern.” Using the Wizard of Oz concept, she helps her staff learn the protein, grain, fruit, vegetable and milk requirements for each grade level. She also created the “Bake A Great Team” bake-off, which started in August of 2017. She developed team rules for her staff, researched district trivia and coordinated the kitchen, equipment, utensils, baking supplies, judging criteria sheets and award ribbons for four teams.

SNA is also recognizing the following regional award winners. National, regional and state level award winners will all be honored in July during the Red Carpet Awards Ceremony at the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference in Las Vegas, NV.

Employee of the Year:

Mideast: Beverley Jenkins, Charles County Public Schools, Maryland
Midwest: Valerie Kincade, Lee’s Summit School District R-7, Missouri
Northeast: Roberta Waldrip, Tewksbury Public Schools, Massachusetts
Northwest: Marlene Toothaker, Boise School District, Idaho
Southeast: Debra “Kay” Flynt, Glynn County School System, Georgia (National winner)
Southwest: Christiane Deatsch, Paola Unified School District, Kansas
West: Patty Maloy, Nebo School District, Utah

Manager of the Year:

Mideast: Trish Peterson, Seaford School District, Delaware
Midwest: Gretchen Schroeder, Anoka-Hennepin Independent School District, Minnesota
Northeast: Ruth Conner, Buffalo Public Schools, New York
Northwest: Jerrilyn Hernandez, Orofino Joint School District 171, Idaho (National winner)
Southeast: Larry Jackson, Sumter County School District, Georgia
Southwest: Elizabeth Glaser, Ponca City Public Schools, Oklahoma
West: Angela Allen, Jordan School District, Utah

Director of the Year:

Mideast: Constance Little, SNS, Beavercreek City Schools, Ohio (National winner)
Midwest: Lynelle Johnson, SNS, Williston Public School District, North Dakota
Northeast: Louise Dean, SNS, Eastern Aroostook Regional School Unit 39, Maine
Northwest: Carol Barker, Auburn School District, Washington
Southeast: Todd A. Bedenbaugh, Lexington-Richland School District 5, South Carolina
Southwest: Julie Telesca, SNS, Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District, Texas
West: Jana Cruz, Jordan School District, Utah

About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing 57,000 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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