By Patricia L. Fitzgerald, Editor 2017-01-31 17:42:04
I’m Sweet on School Nutrition Professionals PEOPLE MAY SCORN AND SCOFF AT THE COMMERCIALIZATION THAT HAS ATTACHED ITSELF TO VALENTINE’S DAY, but I am a sucker for this annual opportunity to send hearts and flowers in celebration of who and what we love in life. I don’t have the financial resources to send some 58,000 individual roses to readers on February 14, so this literary tribute will just have to do. I heart school nutrition professionals for so many reasons; let me count just a few. I love them for their sense of family. In person or on social media or both, connections run deep and last long in this profession. They cross the country specifically to honor award winners or attend the memorial of a former colleague gone too soon. They constantly cheerlead accomplishments and lift one another up in times of stress or grief. They send handwritten thank-yous, take shared vacations and rebuff handshakes in favor of bear hugs. And they readily welcome you to be a member of their family, whether you are a vendor, a trainer, a community partner or an SNA staffer. I love them when they are silly. What an incredible sense of play there is in this business! Sure, this stems from the desire to engage with students, but that creativity and joyful spirit shows up in adults-only functions, too. They decorate cafeterias, don crazy costumes, turn training sessions into games, bring SN’s Ruby Reader to staff meetings and so much more. And I love that while they may not take themselves seriously, they take the business of feeding kids very seriously. They are so dedicated to this mission. Despite all the challenges and the hours and hours of extra work, there are so many school nutrition professionals who are constantly pushing for the next innovation or the next opportunity to serve. Those range from converting a golf cart to take meals across a sprawling high school campus to volunteering to serve on yet another Association committee or task force to working on a snow day to ensure hungry kids in the community are fed even when school is closed. I may be out of space, but I’m not out of reasons to heart the hundreds of school nutrition professionals I know personally and the thousands I know by reputation. Thank you for enriching my life, as well as all those who you touch day in and day out.
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