Dedham Nutrition Director Named Northeast Region Director of the Year
Dedham Public Schools Nutrition Director Receives Regional Award
(Arlington, VA - May 3, 2023) – The national, non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) has named Jeanne Johnson, SNS, School Nutrition Director for Dedham Public Schools, Massachusetts, the Northeast region Director of the Year. The award recognizes the extraordinary contributions of school nutrition directors who manage effective school meal programs providing healthy, appetizing meals to students.
Jeanne Johnson is credited with making many positive changes to the school nutrition program in Dedham. Faced with the unique problem of providing meals for four elementary schools without kitchens or cafeterias, Johnson turned a storage room in the high school kitchen into a centralized production facility. The nutrition department is now able to provide those elementary school students with the same freshly made, high-quality meals as the middle and high school students.
Johnson implemented a breakfast program for all of Dedham’s schools with minimal labor cost increases. She also opened an area-eligible Summer Food Service Program site to provide free meals for all. With participation that continues to grow annually, the program provides nutritious meals for the children in the community and additional work opportunities for the school nutrition team.
Other departments in the school district know they can rely on the nutrition department for their catering needs. On a regular basis, Johnson serves lunch to the superintendent to ensure he is enjoying the same delicious and nutritious meals as the students.
Johnson has developed a strong relationship with teachers in the district. She works with the world language department to bring lessons to life, including partnering with Spanish teachers to provide students with cooking experiences to prepare culturally appropriate foods. Johnson visits classes to discuss the logistics for meal preparation of the recipes they want to try and then students and teachers work with the department to prepare the meal for everyone to enjoy. Johnson also comes up with creative ideas for theme days and district-wide contests.
In addition to training her team, Johnson regularly employs interns from college dietetic programs, and she serves as a Food Service Preceptor for the dietetics program at Framingham State University. Many interns she has worked with have gone into school nutrition careers, and she is always there to help them along their professional path.
“Jeanne Johnson sees the results of her efforts through meal participation increases, engaged students and an appreciative school community. Her commitment to her staff and students is an incredible testament to the job she does day in and day out,” said SNA President Lori Adkins, MS, SNS, CHE.
Johnson is an active member of the School Nutrition Association on the local and national levels. Professional development is very important to Johnson. She offers training opportunities throughout the school year to her team, providing incentives to earn their SNA certificates. She collaborates with colleagues throughout the region on creating online menus with nutrition data, as well as group purchasing of food and supplies.
The 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 food service operations, including budgeting, staffing, training, marketing and community outreach, school nutrition directors ensure the overall success of school meal programs.
Johnson was announced as the Northeast region Director of the Year during an online awards ceremony on May 2 in advance of School Lunch Hero Day, celebrated on May 5, 2023, to honor all of America’s dedicated school nutrition professionals. The accomplishments of Johnson and all SNA award winners will also be highlighted in a special publication and promoted in SNA's annual Hero Day social media campaign on Facebook.com/TrayTalk and TrayTalk.org.
About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing 50,000 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.