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School Lunch Hero Day: Kathy Schneider

Kathy Schneider

School Lunch Hero Day 2024 gives us an opportunity to honor Kathy Schneider, Nutrition Services Manager at Vista Ridge High School.

Schneider was named the Mountain Plains Region Manager of the Year by the School Nutrition Association. 

“I’m shocked,” said Schneider.

The award recognizes the dedication, ingenuity and compassion shown by cafeteria managers who have excelled in providing high-quality, nutritious meals to students throughout the school year. The Mountain Plains Region includes eight states. 

“It’s been overwhelming. I’ve been on the verge of crying so many times,” Schneider said. “I’m humble, I don’t like to make a big show of things. I’m sure there are way more people out there that are more deserving of this than me.” 

“My heart is here,” Schneider said about VRHS. “I’ve loved every minute of it. But this is a big show to go out on.”

This honor is a swan song for Schneider, who is retiring at the end of the school year. She served at Sand Creek High School for nine years before moving over to VRHS when it opened. 

Kathy Schneider on the line

 

From the School Nutrition Association: 

 

Vista Ridge High School Nutrition Manager
Wins Mountain Plains Region Recognition 

The national, non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) has named Kathleen Schneider, Nutrition Services Manager for Vista Ridge High School, in El Paso County School District 49 in Colorado, the Mountain Plains region Manager of the Year. The award recognizes the dedication, ingenuity and compassion shown by cafeteria managers who have excelled in providing high-quality, nutritious meals to students throughout the school year.

Kathleen Schneider is known for her meticulous attention to food presentation, which enhances the dining experience for students and staff. She encourages students to make healthy food choices and creates a welcoming atmosphere in the cafeteria. Schneider demonstrates a calming and proactive approach to problem-solving when issues arise, and is quick to respond with solutions that prioritize a positive cafeteria experience for all.

Schneider worked with the school’s transition program to help special needs students learn life skills, prepare them for post-school employment and gain confidence in their abilities. She also collaborated with the school’s business department to provide students with hands-on experience in operating a coffee cart business, and led a culinary internship program for high school students. Those programs provided students with on-the-job work experience and the development of financial management and customer service skills.

Schneider also serves as a community liaison, consistently sharing information about the foodservice program, menu updates and events with parents and the public. She hosts the school district's annual food show, a public event affording students, parents, staff and community members the opportunity to learn all that the foodservice program has to offer.

“Kathleen fosters a positive cafeteria environment by prioritizing the well-being of students and the professional growth of her kitchen staff,” said Chris Derico, SNS, School Nutrition Association President. “She creates a supportive workplace culture where kitchen staff feel valued, motivated and empowered to deliver their best.”

By frequenting state and national SNA conferences, Schneider is afforded the opportunity to share knowledge and resources gained from those events with her staff. She actively participates in staff discussions to support the professional development of her colleagues and encourages them to attend future SNA events to stay current with industry trends.

The Manager of the Year Award is given in honor of Louise Sublette, a leader in school nutrition in her state and the national School Nutrition Association. During her 43 years in the profession, Sublette worked in many areas of food service—public schools, colleges, hospitals, and elderly feeding programs. Sublette dedicated her career to honoring school nutrition professionals and ensuring those who work in school cafeterias have access to professional development opportunities, empowering them to help their school meal programs flourish. 

Schneider was announced as the Mountain Plains region Manager of the Year during an online awards ceremony on April 30 in advance of School Lunch Hero Day, celebrated on May 3, 2024, to honor all of America’s dedicated school nutrition professionals. The accomplishments of Schneider and all SNA award winners will also be highlighted in a special digital publication and promoted in SNA's annual Hero Day social media campaign on Facebook.com/TrayTalk and TrayTalk.org.

About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing 50,000 school nutrition professionals across the country. Founded in 1946, SNA and its members are dedicated to making healthy school meals and nutrition education available to all students. For more information on school meals, visit www.SchoolNutrition.org/SchoolMeals.

 

Joel Quevillon