Huffman named southeast regional school nutrition director of the year
The national, non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) has named Rhonda Huffman, nutrition services supervisor for Roanoke County Public Schools, VA, the Southeast regional Director of the Year. The award recognizes the extraordinary contributions of school nutrition directors who manage effective school meal programs providing healthy, appetizing meals to students. While the nomination process began before widespread COVID-19 school closures, SNA also recognizes the expansive efforts of school nutrition directors to manage current emergency feeding programs, ensuring needy students continue to access healthy meals.
With two decades of school foodservice experience, Huffman took over as supervisor five years ago and greatly improved the department. which was in danger of having school meal service outsourced due to high deficits. Thanks to Huffman’s quick action and focus on adding breakfast serving options, the district went from serving an average of 80,000 breakfast meals to over 300,000 meals. The increase in breakfast sales through Second Chance Breakfast and grab-and-go breakfast have provided schools with laptops to make it easier to track meals. In addition to breakfast, Huffman has also added Summer Feeding Programs for some of the schools, with plans to continue expanding access within the district.
Reworking recipes to meet federal guidelines, Huffman continues to increase fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains in district meals, while also reducing fat, sugar and sodium levels. She initiated a new menu format focused on student-friendly and appetizing choices that still provide the nutritional value needed.
She is known by staff as respectful, supportive and expecting a high standard of professionalism. Huffman is a certified ServSafe trainer and has been teaching classes since 2005, including Nutrition 101 at the School Nutrition Association of Virginia’s State Conference in 2016. She requires staff to be ServSafe certified and provides training manuals in the areas of staff development and financial responsibilities.
Huffman works with school board members, Student Advisory Council and district administration, communicating the important role school meals play in supporting students’ academics, attendance and behavior. She serves on the School Health Advisory Board, providing information on food allergy news, and on the Wellness Committee implementing guidelines for schools. In addition to promoting the school meal program within the school district, she also ventures into the community. She promotes the Summer Feeding Program, holds job fairs and coordinates cafeteria guests, including local firefighters and other servicepeople.
She has been an active member in SNA of Virginia since 1998, having served as Employee Manager Section chair, regional director, secretary, treasurer, president elect and president. She has served on the Nomination and Education Committee. She has promoted local, state and national involvement in SNA and has been instrumental in helping employees within her district and surrounding districts to become certified members.
“Rhonda Huffman dedicates her time and talents to ensure each child in her district has access to healthy, balanced and enticing school meal options,” said SNA President Gay Anderson, SNS. “She understands that championing staff and promoting the amazing things they’re doing in and out of school kitchens supports a successful school meal program.
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.
About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 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.