Timucuan Elementary School, Duval County (Fla.) Schools/Chartwells K12
Nominator: Candice Nagel, director of marketing at Duval County Schools for Chartwells K12
“Jennie started as a food service worker at Duval County Public Schools’ Timucuan Elementary in 2018. She became the Timucuan Elementary lead in October 2018 and then took on the lead position at Chimney Lakes Elementary in December 2018. When school is in session, Jennie manages her kitchen of eight employees serving an average more than 1,000 breakfast and 1,000 lunch meals per day, as well as the Florida Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) and After School Snack Program (ASSP). Her role includes managing the safe preparation and serving of school meals, maintaining inventory and working with the school staff to ensure students enjoy their dining experience.
She and her team always come to work with a smile and can-do attitude. She encourages her staff to help make school meal service exciting by decorating her serving line with seasonal themes and food-related celebrations like National School Lunch Day. Jennie especially loves having fun with "dress up" with her employees. She will make things fun with her and her staff, and for the kids too. For Halloween, Jennie and her employees all dressed up in costumes for the kids. For the holidays, she and her team made "ugly sweaters" and wore them along with elf ears for the kids.
Jennie and her team are committed to offering an engaging dining experience for the students at Chimney lakes, both on the serving line and during emergency meal service. She and her team of five continues to go out of their way to feed 625-plus kids daily at curbside and bus stops.
She likes to make the curbside and bus stop environment fun during kitchen preparation and at meal service by getting the entire team involved. They celebrate with fun themes like wacky sock day and other silly dress up occasions that the kids and parents notice when picking up the meals.
In addition to preparing and serving emergency meals, Jennie also orchestrates the loading and unloading of the school's eight buses. She helps with loading, unloading, and controlling bus flow for pick up, delivery and drop off upon return.
Forecasting during this difficult time is not easy. Jennie is genuinely concerned with providing enough meals daily. If she sees a bus stop route running low, she will increase it the following day to make sure she has enough to serve all the students in the surrounding community.
Describe the impact of the nominee’s actions have had on their co-workers and those they serve.
Jennie and her team are responsible for one of the largest emergency feeding locations in the district. In addition to curbside service, her kitchen provides meals to seven buses serving 21 bus stop service locations. Her small team ensures that over 600 students receive breakfast and lunch each day. With a large number of economically challenged families in the surrounding community, students rely heavily on school meals for their nutrition. Her team lives in this same community and they continue to take pride in their work supporting neighboring students and their families.
Perhaps the most incredible example of Jennie's impact on the community is evident in her commitment as a frontline worker supporting a family whose mother works in the medical field. A mother of six children has their grandmother care for them while she is at work. She has told Jennie that she relies upon school emergency meals but is barely able to stop by before 1 p.m. due to her hospital schedule. Jennie, knowing this customer has six little mouths to feed at home, and also has to work to provide income for her family, will wait until 1 p.m. and keeps her eyes out for her because she is usually arriving at 1 p.m. But if Jennie does not see her, she will make a point to hang out a little longer—an extra few minutes until she arrives to ensure she receives the meals for her kids. Jennie is an excellent example of an essential worker in one field, helping another essential worker in need. She knows and understands what this mom is going through, the work challenges she is facing and the financial struggle as well.”