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Hope Public School Child Nutrition Director Wins National Recognition

By Staff, 05/6/17 2:53 PM

imageHOPE – The national, non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) has awarded Deanna Gilbert, Director of Child Nutrition Services for Hope Public Schools, AR, the Southwest regional Director of the Year Award, which recognizes the extraordinary contributions of school nutrition directors who manage effective school meal programs providing healthy, appetizing meals to students.

At Hope Public Schools, Deanna Gilbert has implemented many new projects, including a total renovation of the high school cafeteria to resemble a restaurant. Two more cafeterias are scheduled for renovation this summer. Many of the programs implemented by Gilbert have increased school meal participation, including Grab & Go breakfast for grades nine through 12; a five-choice breakfast everyday for students in grades K-12; as well as the Summer Feeding program and farm-to-school initiatives. Known as the “Fruit Lady” by students, Gilbert also started the Fresh Fruit & Vegetables grant program in her district, educating students on the importance of fruits and vegetables. Her skills don’t end with creative ways to improve student participation and choice, Gilbert is also known for her efficiency, replacing all appliances and keeping finances in the positive every year.

Gilbert is so beloved that there is nearly 100 percent retention rate among district staff, most of which have been in Hope Public Schools for a decade or more. She also organizes a series of nutrition education programs for students, called “Color Me,” where district principals, teachers, the superintendent and students dress up as characters and perform skits about nutrition and healthy food choices.

“Deanna’s passion for her job, her students and her district are represented in the number of positive programs and events she has spearheaded over the years,” said SNA CEO Patricia Montague, CAE. “She is a great example of school nutrition directors who are invested in the well-being of their students, leading programs that promote healthy lifestyles and ensuring access to balanced, nutritious meals.”

The regional Director of the Year Award was created to recognize school nutrition directors who exhibit an extraordinary commitment to their school meal programs. The directors are responsible for maintaining the quality of the program through student interaction, menu planning and a commitment to serving nutritious, tasty and well-balanced school meals. Through effective oversight of all aspects of foodservice operations, including budgeting, staffing, training, marketing and community outreach, school nutrition directors ensure the overall success of school meal programs.

In July, Gilbert will be honored during the Awards Ceremony at the School Nutrition Association’s Annual National Conference in Atlanta, GA.



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