Melody Lockhart

Melody Lockhart

Dayton Elementary, Dayton, PA

Melody’s staff says there is something special about working at Dayton Elementary School. They care about the children they serve. They take pride and a personal interest in the student's well-being. She goes out of her way to make sure staff are aware of the students with food-sensitive allergies to keep the kids safe. But more than that, she tries to help students overcome their allergy struggles by offering them other healthy food options.

One example of Melody’s passion for her students is with a kindergarten student who was very shy and wanted to run from the building after being dropped off in the mornings. The teachers had to all work together to keep an extra eye on him all day. During the holiday the cafeteria staff moved an elf in fun ways each day for the children to find during lunch. The kids loved coming to lunch to look for him, especially the young, shy, boy. While the other students were having an activity in the gym next to the cafeteria, he ran to Melody and held her hand, and asked her all about the elf. Since that day, he formed a special bond with Melody. He now enters each morning to head to class, but first gets breakfast from the cart and says hello to Mrs. Mel! She always acknowledges him by name and wishes him a good day. Lately, he’s even begun to open up more at lunch and talk with the staff about what he likes on his tray.

Another example is a shy student who struggles with anxiety. Melody noticed he only ate from a packed lunch, every day bringing a sandwich that was cut into fun shapes using cookie cutters.

Melody brought him some fun new cutters for him to try. In caring, she has developed a relationship with him and his parents. Now each morning he gets out of mom’s car and heads in the door to Mrs. Mel to get a hug and encouragement to start his day. Through this friendship, he has started wanting to try the school lunch. His first time thru the line (which took a year), the entire staff could have cried. He ate every bite. Sitting there eating and smiling. No anxiety, just a boy eating lunch with his classmates.

Food brings us together. Food can heal if you care enough like Melody. When children come to lunch at Dayton Elementary, they know the staff cares by the smiles on their faces and the appealing food they serve. Melody has served their food service program for 34 years. She truly sees beyond the job and brings personal joy to each day – making her a perfect fit as a Tyson K-12 Hunger Hero.

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