Hey, Child Nutrition Pros! Are YOU One of America’s Next Lunchroom Rockstars?

Brightly colored doodles behind a young female child playing an electric guitar TITAN Presents Lunchroom Rockstars child nutrition

When I read that I got something that had ‘rockstar’ in the title, I mean, that was pretty exciting. But what was even more exciting was to find you are nominated by someone who works within school nutrition.

Christine Clarahan
Director of Food and Nutrition for School City of Hammond
Lunchroom Rockstars Winner ’20-’21

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: it’s no small thing to ensure the nourishment of our nation’s children. Whether it’s the average school year or there’s an unprecedented global pandemic, child nutrition professionals understand their meals are a large component in driving student success in the classroom and beyond. 

It’s because of their hard work, sacrifice and overall badassery that we launched Lunchroom Rockstars. And as LINQ CEO Krista Endsley noted in a press release, the program was created specifically to highlight the hardest working folks in the industry.

“Lunchroom Rockstars places these stellar individuals directly in the spotlight, giving nominees the recognition they deserve while also buoying the perception of nutrition programs everywhere,” Endsley said.

If you’re wondering what Lunchroom Rockstars is or how to win or who is eligible, we will cover all of your most burning questions in this post.

Nominate a Lunchroom Rockstar Today!

Do you know someone who ROCKS the cafeteria? Nominate them for a chance to be inducted to the Lunchroom Rockstar Hall of Fame.

Nominate Now!

FAQs: What School Nutrition Professionals Need to Know About Lunchroom Rockstars

What is Lunchroom Rockstars?

Lunchroom Rockstars highlights the everyday heroes who work tirelessly to serve healthy and nutritious meals to our nation’s K-12 students. Colleagues nominate the school nutrition professionals who they think ROCK. The winners are then highlighted and given an award during our LINQ’D UP event with NxtGen Network.

Who is a Lunchroom Rockstar?

ANYONE who helps make school meals and nutrition operations possible. Line servers, cooks, dishwashers, cafeteria janitors, cafeteria monitors, kitchen managers, program operators, nutrition directors, etc.

What happens after you select the winners?

After we select the winners, it’s time to celebrate! We invite the winners to attend the LINQ’D UP event, which comes on the heels of SNA’s Annual National Conference. It’s there that they will step into the spotlight and gain recognition for all their hard work AND have the chance to promote their program.

What is LINQ’D UP and when is it?

LINQ’D UP is a networking event made ONLY for child nutrition professionals that happens each year at the end of ANC. More than ever, it’s important to connect with colleagues on ideas for working around the toughest current challenges. LINQ’D UP gives those in child nutrition the unique opportunity to celebrate what went well during the year and brainstorm on ways to make it even better.

What do the winners receive?

There are some major perks when crowned a Lunchroom Rockstar. The following are just a handful of the benefits for winners:

  • Attendance at LINQ’D UP Event
  • A Lunchroom Rockstars plaque to show off in the cafeteria
  • National press coverage for you, your program, and your district
  • Social media recognition for you, your program, and your district
  • A guest spot on the LINQ’D UP Podcast

Meet our Lunchroom Rockstars Hall of Famers

Last July, we announced the Lunchroom Rockstars winners. Each child nutrition professional brought their own gifts to their individual programs. Let’s get to know them!

Carla Word, River Road ISD

My passion is putting love in all the food we prepare for the children because we do not know their situations at home and if that will be the only meal they receive that day. Carla Word River Road ISD Amarillo TX Lunchroom Rockstars Winner '20-'21

Carla Word is the beloved meat cook and Snack Shack manager for River Road ISD in Amarillo, Texas. Fun fact: Word was nominated by a total of five colleagues! Each person noted Word’s kindness and passion for their district’s nutrition program.  

Patricia Perez, Medina Valley ISD

Knowing that kids don’t always get food at home is my main reason [for working in school nutrition],” Perez said. “I’m fueled by putting our kids first and making sure we give them quality so that they actually love to come eat [in the cafeteria]. Patricia Perez Medina Valley ISD Castroville TX Lunchroom Rockstars Winner '20-'21 child nutrition

Patricia Perez, Cafeteria Manager at Medina Valley ISD in Castroville, Texas, is impassioned to do the work she does for those students who struggle with food insecurity outside of school. Perez’s team members appreciate her positive attitude and say she’s a great motivator.

Christine Clarahan, School City of Hammond

“There is nothing more important to me than meeting the most basic needs of children – nourishing their growing bodies. I have worked in a variety of settings with children and have seen children who have experienced true hunger. Once you see that, you will do anything to end it. Christine Clarahan School City of Hammond Lunchroom Rockstars Winner '20-'21 child nutrition

Christine Clarahan, Director of Food and Nutrition for School City of Hammond in Indiana, is an excellent of example of striving under dire circumstances. When the COVID-19 quarantine shuttered her district’s schools, Clarahan’s team dropped from 160 to just 39 people. In addition, the team could only use six of the 19 district sites to serve food. Clarahan and her team continued serving breakfast and lunch three times a week to 2,400 students a day.

Patti Bilbrey, Scottsdale Unified School District

Patti Bilbrey is a fierce advocate for school nutrition. The Director of Nutrition Services for Scottsdale Unified School District even sits on the Board of Directors for the School Nutrition Association (SNA). Bilbrey, along with the folks she calls “Team Awesome”, pivoted during the pandemic to continue feeding their 25,000 students. That’s true Lunchroom Rockstar material!

Nominate a Child Nutrition Pro for Lunchroom Rockstars!

Do you know someone who absolutely makes your nutrition program ROCK? If so, we want to hear about them. A Lunchroom Rockstar is ANYONE who makes school food service possible.

Perhaps you have an exceptional cafeteria monitor. Or maybe it’s a janitor who makes everyone smile. Or there’s a cashier who doles out hugs to students. Each of these people have a significant role in nourishing students so they are ready to learn.

Now, it’s your turn. What do you think makes someone a Lunchroom Rockstar? Share with us in the comments!

Nominate a Lunchroom Rockstar Now!

If you know someone who makes your school meals rock, nominate them for Lunchroom Rockstars now!

Nominate a Rockstar!

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