The Kentucky School Nutrition Association presents “The Heart of the Program Award” each year to a staff member who demonstrates exceptional commitment to the school nutrition program and dedication to the students they serve. 

Criteria for receiving this award include customer service, interest in young people, cooperation, attendance, professional growth and training. The Heart of the Program Award is designed to honor employees who truly go the extra mile. The 2012 award was presented to Angel Johnson of Sorgho Elementary School. 

Ms. Johnson exemplifies customer service, both in her interactions with staff and students. She begins her day with a smile as she greets all the children by name. She remembers the special needs of students who have food allergies and other needs, and assists those students with making appropriate food choices as they go through the line. 

She is widely recognized – and appreciated! – as an outstanding baker. Her cinnamon rolls and cookies are made from scratch, as well as her fruit desserts and cornbread. She always finds a way to add an extra special touch, such as sprinkles on the cupcakes, but even with her creativity, she still stays within the Nutritional Analysis and Guidelines. 

Ms. Johnson was the first member of Sorgho’s food services team to complete the in-house training education modules. She attends local chapter meetings of the SNA and is planning to attend the state conference in June. She is always ready to learn and open to new ideas – serving as a great role model for our students! 

When not attending formal training, she is learning on her own in the kitchen by trying out new ideas. She watches food programs on her own time and then brings in those ideas and recipes to try at school. She is so motivated, she will alter recipes to fit the quantity needed for more than 500 children, again while staying within the nutrition guidelines. 

She is always willing to go the extra mile. Even after 12 years of working with our district, she is still excited about coming to work every day and is always asking, “How can we do this better for the children?” 

She makes special occasions even more special. At Christmas, she made and served a gingerbread cookie for 500 children at Sorgho. She dresses up at Halloween. Recently, the cafeteria participated in an event with a Hawaiian theme, and Angel created a special dessert that received rave reviews from students and staff . 

She does everything that is asked of her – and goes far beyond that, in service to her co-workers, students and parents. As part of her nomination essay, her food service manager, Margaret Powers, noted that Angel is always very organized and does a fantastic job. Ms. Powers said, “In the food industry, it is a plus to have an individual such as Angel, who is menu-ready and organized with all her ingredients and materials ready to go a week ahead of time.”