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The national non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) has named Southern Bluffs Elementary School cook Jeannette Barteck as the Midwest region Employee of the Year. The award recognizes the valuable contribution of school nutrition employees who exhibit a remarkable commitment to both their school meal program and the students they serve.

Barteck has spent almost 20 years working in school nutrition, always listening to the children with kindness and a compassionate heart. Students coming through the breakfast and lunch lines have come to know Barteck as an adult they can trust and lean on. She often stops what she is doing to help a student who can’t decide what they want for lunch or just listen to them talk about their good or bad days. She is constantly coming up with new menu ideas and ways to make each meal a little more special for students. She makes each holiday special with creative bulletin boards and decorations to get the students excited about being in the cafeteria.

Though it’s not in her job description, Barteck regularly offers to do paperwork, menu planning, and recipe development for her manager. She is integral to the district’s allergen meal program, taking the lead with the team to prep, make, and properly seal and send out all of the celiac, soy-free and egg-free meals for all of the district buildings. Barteck works hard to create these special menus as close to the district’s traditional menu rotation as possible so those children don’t feel singled out with different meals.

“There is so much more to child nutrition than just feeding children delicious and nutritious meals,” said SNA President Lori Adkins, MS, SNS, CHE. “There is a passion to help others, and Jeannette shows that side of herself each and every day.”

The Employee of the Year Award was created to recognize outstanding school nutrition employees who influence the quality of school meals through customer service, an interest in young people, cooperation, work attendance, creativity, participation in professional development, and their willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Barteck was announced as the Midwest region Employee 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.

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