CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) is pleased to announce two school nutrition employees have earned national recognition as part of the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) annual School Lunch Hero Award. The program honors frontline heroes throughout the country who ensure students have access to healthy meals during the school year and beyond.

May 1st is designated as National School Lunch Hero Day each year to celebrate the important role child nutrition directors, managers and employees play in the lives of children. In West Virginia, where more than 80 percent of students participate in some level of free or reduced meals, cafeteria staff members are critical to meeting the needs of children.

This year, Amanda Wimer of Lewis County Schools earned Employee of the Year for the Mideast region, and Susan Parsons of Raleigh County Schools earned Manager of the Year for the same region. Both will be recognized at the SNA national conference this July in Nashville, Tennessee.

“The important role of school nutrition employees cannot be understated at this time as they have been the backbone of our efforts to feed children during the COVID-19 crisis in our state,” said State Superintendent of Schools W. Clayton Burch. “During the traditional school year, these men and women work tirelessly to meet the basic needs of tens of thousands of children in our schools. This year, they’ve been essential to the uninterrupted meal provisions counties have sustained statewide. It is my privilege to congratulate Ms. Wimer and Ms. Parsons for this well-deserved honor.”

Employees, managers and directors were nominated for awards at the state level, and those winners were considered for awards within seven regions across the country.

“We are seeing heroic and selfless acts of school nutrition professionals across the country as they continue to feed our children with compassion during this time of great need,” said SNA President Gay Anderson, SNS. “We are proud to recognize outstanding award winners each year, but this year it’s important to celebrate the phenomenal efforts of all of our members on the frontlines and behind the scenes feeding students.”

School celebrations are not possible this year due to the pandemic, however, the public is encouraged to thank and celebrate school nutrition employees on School Lunch Hero Day and throughout the coming months.