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Congratulations to Jessica Shelly, Director of Student Dining Services at Cincinnati (Ohio) Public Schools, who has been awarded the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association’s (IFMA) 2023 Gold Plate Award! Nominated in the Elementary & Secondary Schools category, Shelly was chosen from the pool of nine winners, all representing extraordinary operator executives across foodservice categories, who were honored with IFMA Silver Plate awards earlier this year.

Shelly’s win this year marks the first time a K-12 foodservice nominee has won the Gold Plate Award since 1994. During her acceptance speech, Shelly thanked her family, her team and the audience of food manufacturers, saying “You here tonight are the reason I can feed my kids nutritious meals every day—because you’re so dedicated to your business. Thank you for helping me nourish our future.”

These recent recognitions from IFMA come just a few months after Shelly was announced as the 2023 winner of the Golden Foodservice Director of the Year award, the highest accolade from Basic American Foods’ Foodservice Achievement Management Excellence (FAME) Awards.

These awards recognize Shelly’s long history of being an innovator within the school nutrition field. Just one example: In 2021, Shelly pioneered a creative National School Lunch Week campaign (inspired by the 2021 “Wild About School Lunch” campaign theme) by partnering with the Cincinnati Zoo for a series of videos featuring Shelly alongside several of the zoo’s most popular animals and corresponding menu items in the district’s cafeterias for each day of #NSLW21.

Above all, Shelly values collaboration as the key to progress and ingenuity in the school nutrition field.

“I don’t think that I am alone an innovator,” said Shelly in an interview following her FAME Awards win. “One of the reasons that we have been so creative and innovative here at Cincinnati Public Schools is because we work so well as a team.”

For Shelly, it’s important that all school nutrition professionals work together in pursuit of the same goal: helping kids thrive by providing them with healthy, delicious school meals. “Because in the end, it’s all of us together,” she said. “It’s all of us in school nutrition, taking care of our kids.”

To learn more about the Gold and Silver Plate Awards and Jessica Shelly, click here.

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