HURRICANE – The School Nutrition Association has awarded Pam Johnson of the Washington County School District the regional Louise Sublette Award of Leadership Excellence in School Nutrition, considered the highest honor a school nutrition manager can earn.
The award recognizes a manager who has demonstrated dedication and ingenuity by successfully implementing a project to improve his or her school meal program. Johnson is the kitchen manager of both Hurricane Middle School and Hurricane High School and worked as a lunch lady for over 20 years.
“When I found out about (receiving the award) I felt very humble,” Johnson said. “No person can do this alone. It takes many people working together to make it happen. I have a great boss and mentor, I love the children I feed each day and I work with the greatest lunch ladies.”
Hurricane High School moved to a brand new building for the 2012-2013 school year and Johnson was thrilled to have a kitchen to prepare lunch on-site each day, rather than having meals transported from the middle school. With the brand new kitchen and cafeteria ready to go, her goal was to start a breakfast program and increase lunch participation. She began by serving new breakfast and lunch offerings to parents, students and staff on Back to School night to generate buzz about new meals. To make the cafeteria environment more inviting, she decorated with tablecloths, baskets and seasonal decorations and worked with her staff to encourage and foster positive attitudes and excitement.
She also served as a guest teacher in two consumer science classes about safe food storage and sanitation so that students would have confidence in the food they were being served. Johnson’s efforts proved a success, with 10 percent of students participating in the new breakfast program within the first two months. Her initiatives more than doubled the average amount of lunch participation.
“My hope is that we can feed every child who comes to school each day a healthy breakfast and lunch. I’m proud to be part of the new food plate, helping young people learn about nutritious meals,” Johnson said. “Nothing is more important than our children; they are our future. I love my job.”
“This award highlights the best in creative thinking and effective planning by school nutrition managers to implement projects that directly benefit students,” said Sandra Ford, president of the School Nutrition Association. “Pam has shown tremendous commitment to her students and is an inspiring example of a dedicated school nutrition professional.”
In July, Johnson will be honored during the awards ceremony of the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference in Kansas City, Mo.
The annual award was created in memory of Louise Sublette, a leader in school nutrition in Tennessee and in the nationwide School Nutrition Association. During her 43 years in the profession, Sublette worked in many areas of food service, including public schools, colleges, hospitals and elderly feeding programs. Sublette dedicated her career to honoring school nutrition professionals and ensuring those who work in school cafeterias have access to professional development opportunities, empowering them to help their school meal programs flourish.
The School Nutrition Association is a national non-profit professional organization representing 55,000 school nutrition professionals across the country. Founded in 1946, the association and its members are dedicated to making healthy school meals and nutrition education available to all students. To find out more about today’s school meals, visit TrayTalk.
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