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Three School Nutrition Professionals Recognized for Extraordinary Achievements

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner
703-576-7526 Ext.
media@schoolnutrition.org

Three School Nutrition Professionals Recognized for Extraordinary Achievements

DALLAS, TX (July 11, 2010) – The School Nutrition Association (SNA) recognized three of its own today at the 64th Annual National Conference, in Dallas, Texas.  In addition to state and regional award winners, three SNA members received national recognition on Sunday, July, 11, 2010 for their superior accomplishments in the school nutrition arena.

The National Louise Sublette Award of Excellence was awarded to Cheryl Dixon, Manager at the Horace Mitchell Primary School in Kittery Point, Maine.  Dixon was honored for her work teaching good nutrition and promoting lifelong healthy eating habits among the students at her school.  She created a program that combined the elements of two existing nutrition education programs in her school: The 5-2-1-0 Program, which teaches students to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, watch less TV, exercise more and eliminate sugary beverages, and the Farm to School Initiative, which provides schools with farm fresh foods.  Dixon then added a third component to the program to teach students about composting and recycling.  To execute the program, Dixon enlisted the help of several school administrators, including the school’s principal and district’s superintendent to model and teach healthy nutrition habits. At the end of the school year, students showed a dramatic increase in their knowledge of good nutrition.  Dixon’s passion and enthusiasm for teaching students about healthy eating is evident in her work.

The 2010 National Outstanding Director of the Year is Mary Kate Harrison, General Manager, Student Nutrition Services for the Hillsborough County School District in Florida.  As SNA member for 21 years, Harrison has had a prolific career.  When she first came to Hillsborough County, the district had lost $2.2 million during the previous school year.  In just four years, Harrison turned around the program with the department showing a profit of $3.4 million dollars.  She put profits back into the school meal program by increasing the offerings of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, offering more nutritious a la carte items, improving procurement, and reallocating labor to save costs.  Harrison also demands professional excellence from her staff, demonstrated by the in-house training program she created.  Harrison is dedicated to ensuring that all children receive nutritious, healthy meals each day. For the past 10 years, Harrison has provided universally free school breakfasts to all students in her school district, regardless of family income.  To further increase student participation in the school meal programs, Harrison eliminated the reduced price category for school lunch five years ago.  A long time SNA member, Harrison has served as the president of the Florida School Nutrition Association, SNA Secretary-Treasurer and chair of SNA’s Public Policy and Legislation Committee.

This year’s Heart of the Program Award goes to Sandi Hansen, Food Service Associate at Northview Elementary School in Eagan, Minnesota.  Hansen is described by her district’s food service director as a “take charge, can do, bubbly, lively” employee.  She works hard to engage the 500 students in her school and educate them about good nutrition.  She knows the name of each student and gets them involved in the school cafeteria.  She works closely with her school’s student council, allowing them to serve breakfast and lunch to their fellow students. Hansen has an active role on the district school nutrition department’s Promotions Committee.  She has developed wildly successful promotions for National School Lunch Week and National School Breakfast Week that significantly increased participation in the school meals programs.  Hansen is committed to teaching students about healthy lifestyles.  Each year, she dedicates a month to reducing the amount of wasted milk in the school.  She works with the students to calculate the amount of milk thrown out and the amount of money wasted.  By the end of the month, the students drink more milk.  Through her creativity and her dedication to her job, Hansen truly is the heart of the program.

SNA, (http://www.schoolnutrition.org) the School Nutrition Association, is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 53,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country.  Founded in 1946, the Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals.

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