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LAS VEGAS, July 1, 2009 – Lee’s Summit School District was named the 2009 District of the Year in School Nutrition today during the 3rd General Session of the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference. The District’s Child Nutrition Department was recognized for improving the health and nutrition of the district’s food offerings, implementing a strong professional development program and exercising superior financial management. Child Nutrition Director Jane Hentzler, RD, SNS accepted the award on behalf of the school district.
Student taste testing, nutritious meals, staff professional development, and an emphasis on strong customer service have launched the Lee’s Summit Child Nutrition Department to the pinnacle of the school nutrition profession. The district surpassed the Keys of Excellence, the national standards for operating school nutrition programs. Lee’s Summit is only the second recipient of the award, for which eligibility is limited to those school nutrition programs that have earned the District of Excellence Distinction in School Nutrition.
As the District of the Year in School Nutrition, Lee’s Summit School District was awarded $25,000 to further improve and enhance their school nutrition program operations. The funds will be used by the school district to promote wellness and nutrition education by creating a nutrition library for all grade levels, expanding lunch room promotions in the media and the community and strengthening school Nutrition Councils by including more school principals and student advisors. The district also plans to continue its dedication to professional development by promoting SNA continuing education and certification to staff members.
Committed to professional excellence, the Lee’s Summit Child Nutrition Department established an outstanding professional development program. All management staff have been SNA certified through classes conducted by the district’s central office staff. By 2010, the district hopes to certify all managers and production staff. All school nutrition staff receive comprehensive training through out the year. A further demonstration of Lee’s Summit’s commitment to professional excellence is shown through it’s involvement with SNA. School nutrition staff members are strongly encouraged to participate in SNA activities through the local, state, and national levels.
Providing both healthy meals and nutrition education is a hallmark of the Lee’s Summit child nutrition program. Fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grain bread items, and low-fat dairy products are staples on district menus for both breakfast and lunch. The student body actively helps the district nutrition staff select new items through taste testing throughout the school year. The district also runs a very active student Nutrition Services Council, further empowering students to make healthy decisions about the foods they eat.
Lee’s Summit was one of eight districts nationally awarded the District of Excellence Distinction. This recognition highlights school districts that complete a thorough self-assessment in all four “key” areas in the Keys to Excellence program then demonstrate that the national best practice standards that make up the “Keys” are met through a comprehensive application packet. The application documents knowledge and marketing, administration, and operations. By being named the District of the Year, Lee’s Summit, Mo., rose above the District of Excellence applicants in 2009 by best reflecting the Keys Express national best practice standards. The district was also evaluated on the integration of their programming into the community and demonstrated dedication and commitment to setting examples for both students and other staff and faculty.
Keys to Excellence is a national best practice standards program that has been a core component of SNA’s professional development and training programs since 1992. This tool serves as the foundation of SNA’s certification and credentialing programs. It also provides a way for school districts to conduct self-assessments and to compare their program to the industry’s gold standard while helping meet their goals to serve healthy, delicious food in a cost-effective way.
In 2007, an expert committee completed a thorough review of the best practice standards for the District of Excellence Distinction in School Nutrition and added the District of the Year Award component to recognize one outstanding district each year . Districts submit an extensive application to a formal peer review panel. District of Excellence recipients may also apply for the prestigious $25,000 District of the Year Award. The District of Excellence and District of the Year programs are made possible through the support of the National Dairy Council®.
To learn more about the District of Excellence program, please visit www.schoolnutrition.org/KEYS.
SNA is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. The Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals. Founded in 1946, SNA is the only association devoted exclusively to protecting and enhancing children’s health and well being through school meals and sound nutrition education.
The School Nutrition Foundation, established in 1964, is a non-profit corporation that provides high-quality professional development, financial aid and research programs to child nutrition professionals and members of SNA. The Foundation’s commitment to the child nutrition community is integral to implementing positive changes in school meals and, ultimately, to the health of school children.
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