SY21 Winning Lunch Hero Group

Meet the new Tyson K-12 Lunch Heroes!

In honor of National School Lunch Hero Day, we wanted to give our lunch hero characters a new face - YOURS!  Read the four winning lunch heroes’ inspiring stories. Thank you to all of the school lunch heroes our there in action every day!

Colleen Lunch Hero

COLLEEN ZENO

Upper Dublin High School, Upper Dublin School District

 

Colleen Zeno, Kitchen Manager at Upper Dublin High School, has gone above and beyond to feed all the students in our district including community members since the start of the Covid closure. How you may ask? By innovating the way we feed the students by providing 7 days’ worth of breakfast and lunch meals in a curbside pick-up bundle, connecting with school bus drivers to do home deliveries, and even feeding the students who are in-person learners in the cafeteria all at the same time. She has made it all possible even when she was only 30% staffed for half the year. Colleen has even earned the title Tetris Queen of the freezer because her goal is to serve nutritious healthy meals from scratch utilizing the commodity foods on hand. Even when we had our backs against the walls, Colleen never doubted, never gave up, and failed to have a smile on her face to encourage the staff during this heartbreaking year. She embodies school nutrition like no one I have ever known and deserves all the accolades possible.

cynthia

CYNTHIA NELLIGAN

Baggett Elementary, Gwinnett County Public Schools

 

Every holiday Cynthia goes out her way to have monthly themes to put a smile on the faces of our students. The cafeteria always looks wonderful and warm. She goes out of her way to make sure all students are happy and smiling. She even makes sure that our students that are having a financial hardship get enough to eat. The students sometimes ask for an extra apple or juice. She has no problem making sure that they are fed a healthy meal each day. Each child has a story and she is always lending an ear to listen. When we have families in need of furniture, Cynthia help to organize and deliver beds and furniture to those families. She also makes sure that the other lunchroom workers get time in their schedule to visit classrooms to educate students about good nutrition. She even does extra treats for the faculty and staff to put a smile on their faces. Her going that extra mile during the Covid-19 pandemic does not go unnoticed. That is why Cynthia is my hero! She is more than just someone who works in our lunchroom. She is a major part of team of caring individuals that work hard to make the lives of others better each day.

jennifer Lunch Hero

JENNIFER GARDNER

Angleton Junior High School, Angleton ISD

 

When the COVID pandemic caused our schools to close, we knew that we had to do something to feed our students. One of our managers, Jennifer Gardner, came to me wanting to help. We decided to start small and grow as needed. We opened up one curbside feeding site and sent our three buses out into the community. By the time we ended, we had two curbside pick-up locations and five buses that made over 50 stops total. We fed hundreds of thousands of meals. I could not have pulled our feeding plan off without Jennifer's help. She ordered the food, moved inventory around to decrease food loss, problem solved issues and kept our staff sane. Jennifer is the reason we were able to make sure so many of our students had food to eat. Angleton ISD is a very large district as far as mileage goes. Many of our students do not have the means to come into town to pick up meals. Our student population is over 72% economically disadvantaged and food insecure. There are many areas in our community that are food deserts. Without our feeding program and Jennifer's work, our students would have been hungry.

john lunch hero

JOHN BERNOZZI

Andover Elementary, Orange County Public Schools

 

When you think of the definition of "Dedicated" you will think of John Bernozzi. I have supervised him for the past 8 years and have been a front row witness to his devotion and commitment to the students of Orange County Public Schools. He possesses a high level of dedication, integrity, and loyalty and that is why I am nominating him as a School Lunch Hero. Throughout the years he has been a great leader to his staff. He always celebrates them, from their birthdays and giving gifts and gift cards for Christmas and other holidays, to taking them to a nice restaurant at the end of every school year to thank them. He goes above and beyond to engage students so that he not only understands their needs and obtains his customer's voice but also ensures that he provides a warm, welcoming, and stimulating experience when they enter his cafeteria. Prior to the pandemic John regularly scheduled focus groups, taste testings and fun activities with his students to capture their feedback about their dining experience. He also partnered with the coaches to create commercials of them taste testing new nutritious menu items to create a buzz and excitement. His students and faculty were so engaged and excited that this subsequently increased his sales and participation. He and his team regularly decorate their kitchen and cafeteria and dress up in costumes for specially events and holidays. During this COVID-19 pandemic, he makes sure that no child in need goes without meals. One day he found out that a Parent was upset that they missed the curbside time and was unable to get their child the week’s meals from our Monday curbside distribution. On Tuesday John had them come to pick up their child's week of meals, even though he couldn’t claim them. He wanted to make sure that their child had food for the week. Another time a Parent came after 5pm unaware of our ending time and John was just leaving to go inside. Again even though it was after the serving time and he would not be able to claim them, he asked the parent and child to come to the side door where he met them outside and gave them the curbside week’s meals. In both instances the parents were undoubtedly appreciative and grateful for him going above the call of duty to serve their child. It is this dedication that propels him into a league of his own. He is always very professional, courteous, superbly organized, and consistently thinks about ways to improve his performance. He is dedicated to providing stellar customer service to his school community and is a model member of the OCPS family. This is why I know he is a great School Lunch Hero!