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2023 FAME Golden Foodservice Director of the Year Award winner Jessica Shelly of Cincinnati Public Schools.

2023 FAME Award winners announced

Jessica Shelly of Cincinnati Public Schools receives top honor, the Golden Foodservice Director of the Year Award.

Basic American Foods (BAF) has announced the winners of the 2023 Foodservice Achievement Management Excellence (FAME) Awards that for more than 30 years have recognized K-12 foodservice who make a difference. The most prestigious FAME honor, the Golden Foodservice Director of the Year Award, is presented to Jessica Shelly, director of student dining services at the Cincinnati (Ohio) Public Schools.

The Silver Leadership Award winner is Christine Clarahan, director of food & nutrition services at the School City of Hammond in Indiana, while Lauren Koff, dietitian for Houston County Schools in Georgia, is the Silver Spirit Award winner and Melanie Romano, school nutrition director for the Alliance Charter Schools in Charlotte, N.C. won the Rising Star Award.

Shelley was cited for creating a dining experience for the students she serves and her ability to “not just serve school lunch, but to serve lunch at school,” according to BAF’s announcement, which also noted that by empowering choice and offering options, Shelly increased high school lunch participation from 48% to 76%. For an FM podcast interview with Shelly conducted in April 2020 about her efforts to keep kids fed during the early months of the COVID pandemic, go here.

Clarahan’s strengths include growing others into leaders. She was the first to implement a comprehensive leadership training program for all staff, which no other district “non-curricular” department had ever done and with her six years as the director, she passionately values her staff and works hard to ensure fair compensation for all. For a report on how Clarahan’s district coped with the first weeks of the COVID epidemic in March 2020, go here.

For the last 10 years, Koff has far exceeded the original scope of her position. Whether it’s developing a local food show, training others in growing their careers, obtaining grant money or bringing CEP to more than half of the schools in the district, she is invested in all parts of her school foodservice program and well-respected beyond her Houston County family, being regularly requested to speak at conferences. Her program won an FM Best Concept Award in 2020 for a pandemic era program called Pizza Pick Up that saved the nutrition department money while benefitting the community.

With just two years of experience, Romano has successfully transitioned Alliance from a vended, catered contract to a delicious, self-prep program offering multiple nutritious entrees daily, thus establishing much high meal participation and satisfaction.

The 34th annual FAME Awards ceremony will be held live on Jan. 15, 2023, during SNA’s School Nutrition Industry Conference in San Diego. For more information and to register for the conference, click here.

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