Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner,

ARLINGTON, VA – In celebration of School Lunch Hero Day (Friday, May 3), the national, non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) recognizes the tireless efforts of school nutrition professionals who ensure students across the country can benefit from healthy meals each school day. 

School Lunch Hero Day (#SLHD24) is a chance to stop and recognize the year-round efforts of school nutrition professionals. Whether creating festive cafeteria environments, enhancing menus with culturally relevant options or providing nutrition education opportunities to engage students, school nutrition professionals make a positive impact on the students they serve. These women and men are committed to providing nutritious and delicious meals to the children of their communities.  

“School nutrition professionals are often unsung heroes in their schools, nourishing students for success and contributing positively to their school day. We appreciate the opportunity to celebrate their dedication and efforts to support children throughout the country,” said SNA President Chris Derico, SNS. 

Again this year, 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.   

School nutrition 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 2024 national award recipients:   


Shenna Morrison, Production Center Assistant for North Harford High School in Harford County, Maryland, has earned the national Employee of the Year award. 

Shenna Morrison has demonstrated an unwavering dedication to her school, students and coworkers. She takes great pride and joy in all aspects of serving the students and consistently goes above and beyond for all stakeholders within her school. School administrators rely on her calm demeanor and focus when she is tasked with feeding students during less-than-ideal circumstances, such as losing power in the kitchen during Thanksgiving meal service.  

Keeping nutrition and school meals interesting to the students is important to Morrison. She worked with her team to create unique weekly menu themes to increase student excitement, including Italian, Asian delights, grill specialties and an extremely popular deli line. They also developed a commercial and song to the tune of “Hey Jude” by The Beatles to increase breakfast sales. Morrison frequently invites students from Food and Consumer Science classes to witness the working school kitchen in real time. Students value and enjoy learning about meal prep, cooking and teamwork. 

Morrison finds the positive in any situation while guiding her team to excellence. This is illustrated by the amount of time she devotes to training team members with differing abilities and through her approachable personality.  


Vivian Crespo, Cafeteria Manager for Israel Putnam Elementary in Meriden, Connecticut, has earned the national Manager of the Year award. 

Vivian Crespo is a valuable member of the school community, encouraging students to make nutritious choices with genuine kindness. School administrators tout Crespo as providing high quality customer service, and she’s known for treating students and staff with the utmost respect. She knows all 400+ students by name and makes a point to reach out to those who may be having a difficult day. She takes pride in cafeteria celebrations and holidays and continuously strives to make the cafeteria and kitchen warm and inviting places to be.  

Crespo played a vital role in the reinvention and expansion of the Summer Food Service Program. She worked diligently to find solutions to challenges and continues to move the program forward. She also recorded a bilingual Facebook live promotion with the superintendent to educate the community about the summer program and its kick-off event. 

For the past five years, Crespo has shouldered additional responsibilities as a supervisor to both FoodCorps and AmeriCorps service members working at her kitchen, a mark of her strong mentoring and leadership skills. She actively coaches staff members from all walks of life and listens, advises and nurtures them professionally and personally. Crespo’s compassion and supportive qualities have fostered mutually beneficial relationships with various organizations, opening many new doors for her district. 

Eric Span, Director Nutrition Services for Sweetwater Union High School District, California, has earned the National Director of the Year award.  

Eric Span is credited with revamping and updating menus in the school district to offer higher quality ingredients and improve nutrition. Span instituted a scratch cooked meal program by training all staff on knife skills, grill usage, recipes, culinary procedures and food safety standards.  

He successfully incorporated student, staff and parent input into the program. Parents are encouraged to visit cafeterias, observe meal prep, taste test new menu options and participate in annual back-to-school nights providing information on meals, benefit applications and nutrition regulations. Span maintains productive relationships with students by supporting the creation of student advisory boards. Members present menu ideas to area supervisors and are tasked with recruiting peers for taste tests and pop-up educational events. The students are encouraged to provide positive and negative feedback on menu items or service-related issues 

Span also began a successful farm-to-school program by partnering with an engineering program at a district high school. The program began with 400 chickens, providing eggs for a variety of menu options, including protein boxes and Pho noodle bowls. Excess eggs were sold to teachers and community members to help finance the growth of the farm project, which included adding fruit trees on school campuses for students and staff to pick from.  


SNA is also recognizing these regional award winners: 


Employee of the Year: 

Mid-Atlantic:  Shenna Morrison, Harford County Public Schools, MD (National Winner) 

Midwest:  Melissa Willhite, Tracy Area Public Schools, MN 

Mountain Plains:  Sheena Boyd, Lee’s Summit R-7 Schools, MO  

Northeast:  Sonia DelGreco, Meriden Public Schools, CT 

Southeast:  Russell Barlow, Marshall County Schools, AL  

SouthwestHollie Valenzuela, Roswell Independent School District, NM 

Western:Rosa Roque, Woodburn School District #103, OR 


Manager of the Year: 

Mid-Atlantic:Rommel Ongaco, Woodbridge School District, DE 

Midwest:  Sandra Hirdler, Osseo Area Schools ISD 279, MN 

Mountain Plains:  Kathleen Schneider, El Paso County School District 49, CO  

Northeast:  Vivian Crespo, Meriden Public Schools, CT (National Winner) 

Southeast:  Maggie Oswalt, Scott County Schools, KY 

SouthwestLuana Adams, Hobbs Municipal Schools, NM 

Western:Valerie Moore, Tigard-Tualatin School District, OR 


Director of the Year:
Mid-Atlantic:  Sandra Stokes, SNS, Petersburg City Public Schools, VA  

Midwest:Stacey Bettis, Minerva Local, Brown Local & Tuscarawas Local School Districts, OH 

Mountain Plains:  Beth Wallace, SNS, Jefferson County Public Schools, CO 

Northeast:  Caitlin Lazarski, MS, RD, SNS, Pine Bush CSD, NY 

Southeast:  Dawn Lewis, M.Ed.L, Coffee County School System, GA  

Southwest:  Amy Woolsey, SNS, Ogden School District, UT 

Western:  Eric Span, Sweetwater Union High School District, CA (National Winner) 


On April 30, the accomplishments of all this year’s SNA award winners were recognized during an online awards ceremony. All of the winners will also be recognized in a special publication and promoted in SNA’s annual #SLHD24 social media campaign on and 


About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing 50,000 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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