#Trayblazers

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kelley-michelle-stories 

Kelley Mitchell MS, RD has worked in the Fontana Unified School District as a Nutrition Specialist for almost seven years. When she started, she worked mainly with special diets and menu planning, but her job has shifted a lot in the past year.

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MariaTrayblazer 

For 16 years, Maria Eunice has been Director of Food Nutrition for Alachua County Public Schools in Gainesville, FL. Her experience was put to the test this year, having to navigate feeding students during a 5-month shutdown of schools in her district.

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SaraTrayblazer 

Sara Supplee is the nutrition coordinator at Fridley Public Schools in the Twin Cities metro area. Her team serves around 3,000 students in the district between two elementary schools, one middle school, one high school, an alternative learning center and one community center.

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Alex 

Alex Molina has been Foodservice Director of the McAllen Independent School District since 2013. 87% of her students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, so participation during COVID-19 shutdowns remained very high.

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Emma 

Emma Anne Hallman was born for this. Raised by educators, she grew up knowing the importance of a strong school community. Now, as the Child Nutrition Director at Haleyville City School District in Haleyville, Alabama, Emma Anne and her team provide daily meals to about 1,700 students, and with over 60% of students getting free and reduced meals, those meals really count.

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Crystal 

New Jersey natives are known for big, bold attitudes. Think Frank Sinatra. Think The Boss. Now you have a glimpse into the energy and enthusiasm of Crystal DeCaro. As the Food Service Director at Lacey Township School District in Ocean County, New Jersey, she had to pivot and adjust to keep her students fed during this difficult year. With the district serving a total of six schools and 4,100 students, what’s her secret ingredient to being such a superstar? Positivity and perseverance, of course

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Alex 

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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Alex 

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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Alex 

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 

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 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 

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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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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Caroline Trinder 

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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Caroline Trinder 

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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