LINQ recognizes three lunchroom rockstars for the 2021-2022 school year.
The dedication and commitment of K-12 nutrition professionals is truly inspiring. It is no easy task to make sure that hundreds and even thousands of students are fed nutritious meals each day. Given the supply chain challenges and staffing shortages of this last school year, it is an even greater challenge. Yet, countless K-12 nutrition professionals show up each day with a positive, can-do attitude and get the job done.
Lunchroom Rockstars, a LINQ peer-to-peer nomination program, aims to shine a spotlight on the seldomly celebrated school nutrition professionals who are making a significant impact in their districts and communities.
Throughout the 2021-2022 school year, LINQ has received nominations from K-12 districts across the country. The nomination process culminates with the selection and recognition of three winners at the Ignite! Party, hosted by Next Up.
LINQ is honored to introduce you to this year’s winners.
“He is the epitome of dedication and enthusiasm.” – Gwen Freier, FNS Operations Specialist.
Paul Ingram, Food Service Manager at Crystal River High School in Citrus County School, FL, is described as “the epitome of dedication and enthusiasm.” In addition to managing a team of six individuals and servicing not only his school, but a satellite school for students interested in studying environmental science, Ingram is an active member of his school and professional community. He has been on various committees at both the local and state levels for school nutrition associations, is the president of his local chapter, and the Employee/Manager section chair-elect for the Florida School Nutrition Association.
Under Paul’s leadership, his team successfully served breakfast and lunch to over 100,000 students last school year. Despite the supply chain challenges, Paul maintains a can-do attitude that is reflected in the attitude of his team. Whether they dress up to support the school sports teams or wear Fun Friday T-shirts, Paul and his team constantly demonstrate their love for their school community.
“Just an awesome and amazing worker.” – Karen Sander, Director of Nutrition Services.
Juanita Copeland, Kitchen Manager at Jackson Middle School in Jackson R-2, SD, has worked for her district for almost 20 years and has never missed a day. While that is impressive on its own, it is even more amazing considering that Juanita is battling cancer. “She comes to work, opens her kitchen, goes and gets her chemo and comes right back to her building to make sure her students are fed,” says Karen Sander, Director of Nutrition Services for the district.
Juanita and her team of 10 serve over 800 students each day. Knowing the nutritional value of freshly prepared food, they make as many of their meals from scratch as they can. Juanita truly cares for her school community, and she demonstrates it daily.
“I wish I had 20 more Heidis!” – Sharpe Timikel, Executive Director.
Heidi Asselton is the Cafeteria Manager at Central High School in Bib County, SD. She is known for her positive and bubbly personality and her willingness to take on new challenges. When a nearby school in her district was under construction, Heidi and her team jumped into action to serve the population of students.
A natural leader, Heidi encourages and empowers her team to be leaders themselves. She also volunteers to assist with additional activities within her department and is continuously pushing herself to improve. Recently, she has gone back to school to become a supervisor in school nutrition. Heidi is a tremendous asset to her district and always finds a way to make every interaction, both with the students in her service line and with her peers, a pleasurable one.
Do you know of an amazing school nutrition professional who deserves to be recognized? We’ll be announcing our new program for the 2022-23 school year in the fall. Follow us on social media to learn more.
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