Introducing Your 2018 School Lunch Heroes!

There are so many unsung heroes in school– counselors, janitors, educators, teaching assistants, etc etc etc. and those who serve them all, the Food Service Directors and staff! This Friday, May 4th, the School Nutrition Association is celebrating them with a School Lunch Hero Day!

We thought it would be fun to ask our Fuel Up to Play 60 advisors if they have a School Lunch Hero they’d like to honor– the response was overwhelming. When inspiring stories poured in about overcoming tragedy, supporting students who can’t afford a meal, cheering on the underdogs and stepping up when times are tough, it was difficult to choose one final winner!

If you have a minute, please read through some of the nominations. I think you’ll be inspired and in awe of the energy and dedication these leaders truly possess.

Amber Swinehart, Hamilton Southeastern

She manages our menu for all grade levels which includes 12 Elementary, 4 Intermediate, 4 Junior High, 2 High School and 2 College Career Academies.  She not only processes and manages the Menus for these buildings but she also work with the Building Managers through recipe committees, trials and other projects to meet the desires of your students.  

Amber also encourages our Management team to offer Special Occasion menus for activities and events such as Super Bowl, Homecoming, Red Ribbon Weeks, and everything in between.  She is instrumental in making lunch FUN as well as Nutritious for our Students. Amber Swinehart is HSE’s  LUNCH HERO !!!! 


Lanita Greene, Indiana Math & Science Academy

She is my kitchen manager and she handles both of our schools here in Indianapolis.  This is her first year here and what an amazing year we have had.  She keeps everything running smoothly even when she has had 4 team members out in one day, by the way she didn’t bring in temps to help. She cooked , served, cleaned and had a smile on her face while doing it.

Lanita Greene - Kitchen Manager

Jessica Lichtenbarger, Valerie Hill, Kristie Adams & Karen Combs, Rolling Prairie Elementary

My youngest son 18 years old, passed away unexpectedly on September 11, 2017. My life has been a nightmare ever since. The reason for this spotlight request is that while I was gone for 2 weeks trying to come to grips and plan a funeral and grieve. My girls held down the fort sort to speak. we have no subs here for food service, and they took it in stride. They pulled together like rock stars, They made sure everything was handled from the ordering to the paper work to the meal prep to handling the kids in the cafeteria. When I came back they were patient with me when I had my tear filled days, while trying to hold it together.  They helped bring me out of the fog that I wish no parent has to go through.They had my back when my mind just wasn’t in it,  and for that they are my heroes!


Jennifer Elfreich, Corpus Christi School

She is a dynamic cafeteria manager.  She is open to anything we like to do involving the cafeteria.  During library week, Red Ribbon Week, Catholic Schools Week, she is open to coordinating the theme days with our lunches.  Anytime a student is featured in the paper she has this up as the children go through the lunch line.  She also celebrates each child’s birthday.  Please consider Jennifer Elfreich as a school lunch hero!


Kelley Curl, St. Joseph School

Kelley has started a morning breakfast program for our students.  No child now has to come to school hungry.  They are so much more ready and able to learn with a good breakfast in their stomachs.  Our school has about 1/3 of our students on free or reduced lunches.

Our school also has an early childhood program.  These children have compliant snacks on a daily basis.  Kelley and her staff (1 part-time person) do breakfast, lunch, and all the snacks for our 157 students.  Then, if that isn’t enough, they clean the kitchen good enough to eat off of the floor everyday.  Then, she will go to archery practice where she serves as one of our coaches.

Sandy Clayborn, Riley Elementary

She has worked at Riley Elementary for 43 years. She goes above and beyond her job duties. Not only for her students but for all kids. I am nominating her because she is not only a fantastic lunch lady but she is also several students school lunch hero.


Michelle O’Banion, Cedar Elementary

Our school has over 700 students and around 60 staff members.  Our school also has all types of Special Education Classes, from Life Skills, Learning Disabilities, to Emotional Behaviors.  Many of our students have special dietary needs and Michelle personally takes care of each of those students.  I have students that have emotional breakdowns when there is not a lunch option they like and she makes sure they have a healthy choice that they will eat. I have had students with specific diets forget their lunch, and she is able to make an option that will work for them available on the spot. I know she also works with families that can’t afford lunch or a “second entrée” to make sure that no one leaves our cafeteria hungry.


Barb Parkhurst, Valley Grove Elementary

She is energetic and loves to have fun with the students as Valley Grove- from preparing pancakes for students during state testing to making sure that students always have a healthy lunch prepared for them regardless the circumstance.  Attached is a picture of our “School Lunch Hero” helping students understand the importance of breakfast!