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Three School Nutrition Professionals Acknowledged for Exemplary Accomplishments

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Erik Peterson
(703) 739-3900, ext. 124

epeterson@schoolnutrition.org

Three School Nutrition Professionals Acknowledged for Exemplary Accomplishments

PHILADELPHIA (July 20, 2008) – The School Nutrition Association (SNA) recognized three of its own today at the 62nd Annual National Conference, in Philadelphia, PA.  In addition to state and regional award winners, three SNA members received national recognition on Sunday, July 20, 2008 for their superior accomplishments in the school nutrition arena.

The National Louise Sublette Award of Excellence was awarded to Janice Mills, cafeteria manager at Mansfield Middle School in Mansfield Center, Connecticut. Mills was recognized for her 2008 program Looking at Connecticut History through the Eyes of a School Kitchen.  She was the 2002 recipient of the School Nutrition Association’s Louise Sublette Award for Lunch Time Links to Literacy, as well as winner of the 2002 Connecticut Association of Schools non-certified staff award for educational leadership. Janet has been with the child nutrition program in Mansfield Public Schools for the past 15 years and has held jobs ranging from cashier-lunch helper, elementary school manager and most recently, manager at Mansfield Middle School. Janice has served on the School Nutrition Association of CT (SNACT) Executive Board and as Chapter President for the Yankee Chapter of SNACT. Growing up, Mills attended parochial schools that did not provide any type of school meals. That experience has led to her passion for providing nutritious and well-balanced school meals for all students.

The 2008 National Outstanding Director of the Year is Rhonda DeVaux, School Nutrition Director for Irvine Unified School District in California.  An SNA member for 31 years, DeVaux has found the right balance between nutrition integrity and fiscal responsibility. Years before California implemented nutrition standards, DeVaux successfully worked to eliminate soda and candy sales on her district’s campuses. She used fruit and vegetable promotions to increase their consumption by 40% and implemented “best value” pricing for combination meals to emphasize the importance of eating well-balanced meals. All of this was done while erasing a deficit of $300,000 that she inherited when becoming director and creating a “fund balance” that is used for nutrition education and staff development.  In a little over a decade she has increased meal participation by 63% in a district with a very high rate of “paid” students and open campuses. A wide variety of entrée choices, smart utilization of technology and collaborations with PTAs and other campus groups have paved the way for success. Her creativity spans from providing a nutrition education program to students while they wait in line for lunch to involving student groups in the school nutrition program as a way for the groups to raise funds. A past president of the California School Nutrition Association, DeVaux is also active in her school community and operates a model professional development program to provide all of her staff with skills they need to succeed.

The National Heart of the Program went to Anita Karakesisoglu, a foodservice employee at the Nutrition Service Office of Irvine Unified School District in California. Described by her colleagues as “naturally friendly, warm and engaging,” Karakesisoglu’s energy is only exceeded by her creative resourcefulness. By developing an efficient process for entering district financial data, tracking and transporting food and organizing documents and supplies at each school site, she has saved time, labor and money for the district school nutrition department. Whether volunteering to step in when needed at a school site, for a state or chapter association function or to help with district special events, Karakesisoglu is know for her “can do” attitude and positive demeanor. She has continued to focus on professional development, taking a range of courses and seeking to become SNA credentialed in an effort to improve the district school nutrition operation. Anita’s dedication to her profession is evident from her exemplary attendance record, she has had perfect attendance on the job since September 1, 2005, making her truly the “heart” of the Irvine Unified School District Nutrition Service Office.
The SNA Annual National Conference, July 20-23, 2008, features over 6,000 child nutrition and school foodservice industry professionals participating in over 100 educational workshops, the school nutrition industry’s largest exhibit hall and guest speakers including ABC Good Morning American co-host Robin Roberts.

SNA (http://www.schoolnutrition.org) 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.

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