In addition to the wealth of knowledge gained through her 30 years of experience, Minnick exudes both the character and the drive needed to oversee meal services for five school districts. Each district presents a different challenge and Minnick guides everything from renovations and repairs to getting financials on track. Prior to the pandemic, Minnick would engage with students during meal service to get their feedback. The interactions often led to the inclusion of new menu options and increased student meal participation. Minnick's interpersonal skills have won over staff and students alike. She collaborates with her staff to organize fun cafeteria events for National School Breakfast Week and National School Lunch Week with contests, new foods and guest servers.
Her successful financial management enabled one of her previous districts to remodel the entire high school cafeteria, creating a more appealing dining space for students. Minnick has also assisted neighboring districts with their financial struggles, turning deficits into positive balances and creating breakfast and lunch programs from scratch. In another district, she saw the need to expand meal service during summer months and implemented a food truck, serving up to 11,000 meals to children each summer. The community knows this food truck as “The Lunch Box” which received the Children’s Hunger Alliance’s award for the 2016 Summer Program of the Year.
Minnick coordinates an annual back-to-school skills training for all of her districts, offering networking opportunities for more than 60 school nutrition professionals. She sets up a mini food show for vendors to showcase new menu items and connect directly with the frontline workers. Neighboring districts ask for her assistance training new staff, including mentoring new directors on menu development, financial analysis, staffing and department efficiencies for cost savings. A part of the district’s COVID Response Committee, Minnick helped coordinate the meal distribution needed to prevent children from going hungry. She even created and maintains social media accounts for the school meal program to help promote menus and initiatives among administrators and families.
Her involvement in the School Nutrition Association of Ohio and national SNA is extensive. Minnick has held many positions over the years, including local chapter president, education and legislative chair, vice-president, president elect and president of SNA Ohio. She was a member of SNA Ohio Wellness Policy and is a current member of the Child Nutrition Advisory Group for the Ohio Department of Education and a committee member for various group purchasing cooperatives. She encourages other school nutrition professionals to get involved with SNA.
“Kelly Minnick is truly dedicated to her students’ welfare and the education and training of her staff across districts,” said SNA President Reginald Ross, SNS. “Her efforts have ensured that more students in her districts have access to healthy breakfasts and lunches each school day and nutritious meals year-round.”
The regional Director of the Year Award was created to recognize school nutrition directors who exhibit an extraordinary commitment to their school meal programs. The directors are responsible for maintaining the quality of the program through student interaction, menu planning and a commitment to serving nutritious, tasty and well-balanced school meals. Through effective oversight of all aspects of foodservice operations, including budgeting, staffing, training, marketing and community outreach, school nutrition directors ensure the overall success of school meal programs.
On May 5, 2021, Minnick was honored during the first-ever “Our Heroes: Celebrating the 2021 SNA Award Winners” virtual event. Nominees, nominators, state leaders, Board of Directors, Leadership Development Committee and Back to School Summit attendees will be invited to celebrate the accomplishments of this year’s SNA award winners.
About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing 50,000 more than school nutrition professionals across the country. Founded in 1946, SNA and its members are dedicated to making healthy school meals and nutrition education available to all students. For more information on school meals, visit www.SchoolNutrition.org/SchoolMeals
Article provided by: Robby Piazzaroli, Associate
CJ Public Relations