#Trayblazers

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Celebrating #Trayblazers Nationwide

School nutrition professionals who are thinking big and taking action.

Even in the face of COVID-19, school nutrition staff are going above and beyond to feed kids in their communities. Read stories from fellow #Trayblazers all around the country—and discover the latest innovations, insights and tips you can use within your school district today.

Click on the map to learn from #Trayblazers who have gone above and beyond to ensure kids are fed in their communities.

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Alicia Braun

Alicia Braun, a Registered Dietitian, was eager to get back into a role at a smaller district with a more close-knit crew—and she found her home at Coppell Independent School District in Coppell, TX! The past school year, her team put their expertise to the test to navigate a restriction-heavy 2020.

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Maria Anderson

Maria Anderson is passionate about keeping her students’ plates full—and she does it all while having a full professional plate herself. She’s a Nutrition Coordinator for both the Roseville and Saint Anthony-New Brighton school districts in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area.

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Sara Dan

You can’t say Sarasota County Schools without saying Sara Dan’s name—her career in school nutrition began there in 1996, serving as a Nutrition Educator, Training Supervisor and Area Supervisor. And in 2019, she took the reigns as Director of Food Nutrition Services at the 52-school district in southwest Florida.

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Kelly Raser

As the effects of COVID-19 continue to impact school districts across the country, K-12 kitchen staff have had to continuously pivot – all while putting smiles on their students’ faces and increasing participation. Kelly Raser, the Nutrition Services Director at Jordan Public Schools, and her staff are an outstanding example of this work.

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Casey Partain 

Casey Partain

As Foodservice Director for the Marshall, Alabama school district, Registered Dietician Casey Partain brings unbridled passion and energy to her job. Now in her ninth year, Casey and her team are constantly exploring smarter ways to feed a district population of 5,900 students of all income levels, spanning four different school feeder patterns across the county.

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Donna Martin

Like so many K-12 programs across the country, Burke County School District’s foodservice staff went the extra mile to ensure that kids, along with their families, stayed fed and fueled during COVID. Foodservice Director Donna Martin, who is a registered Dietitian Nutritionist and has been with the district for 21 years, spearheaded the heroic effort to get students the nutrition they need.

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Tim Butts 

Tim Butts

Tim Butts is a food service director with Aramark K-12 in Beloit, Wisconsin. Upon first speaking with Tim, his food expertise, passion and dedication quickly become apparent. He has over 15 years of experience in the industry, and it was our privilege to hear how he has been serving the Beloit school district and helping guide it with unique solutions and seasoned leadership.

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Tonya Felton 

Tonya Felton

After speaking with Tonya Felton for only a few moments and she says things like, “'I make it my business to know all of my students’ names,' 'They’re my babies,' 'It’s like a family,' ‘They’re my children...'” you truly believe her. Every word is infused with passion and love. Tonya's commitment and enthusiasm make her the ideal child nutrition manager for the Anniston City School System in Alabama. It was an honor to talk with her and hear the difference she's making in her students' lives.

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Casey Partain 

Caroline Trinder

Seeing 2,500 evacuees lined up outside your school cafeteria is not something K-12 foodservice professionals are trained to handle. But in 2017, that’s exactly the challenge Hurricane Irma presented to Caroline Trinder. At the time, , it was considered the most powerful hurricane on record in the open Atlantic and the most intense hurricane to strike the continental United States since Hurricane Katrina. In her role as Sarasota County Schools' area supervisor of food and nutrition services, Caroline and just four other staff members did everything they could to ensure her school’s facility (1 of 13 open in the area) was open to feed the community.

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Aaron Smith

When Yun Kwon nominated Aaron Smith to be this month’s Trayblazer, she quickly summed up Aaron's impact on their students. “Aaron is changing the perception and image of school food by making it culturally diverse, healthy and fun. I have never heard or seen the things we are doing here in Seattle ever before.” After chatting with Aaron, we couldn’t agree more.

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Lisa Harkrader 

Lisa Harkrader

You can ask anyone, Lisa simply does not know how to do things by half measures. For instance, when she was given the goal of increasing breakfast sales, she overdelivered… by 400%. It’s an understatement when she says things like, “If you give me a challenge, I’ll ask a few questions, and then I'll achieve it.” There’s no wonder why she’s this month’s Trayblazer!

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Calling all #Trayblazers—we want to hear more of your stories. Share with us how you've been moving school food forward in your community by using #Trayblazers on Twitter and Instagram!

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