May 28, 2022

The national, non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) has named Sharon Owensby, Catering Manager at Lee’s Summit High School in Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, Missouri, the National Manager of the Year.

The award recognizes the dedication, ingenuity and compassion shown by SNA members who have excelled in keeping students fed during the pandemic.

Sharon Owensby stepped up when the COVID pandemic closed schools. She and the team worked hard to ensure all the children in the community were fed, setting up the high school for curbside operations. She created flyers to hand out with meals, encouraging parents to share information on the COVID meal service with other families. Her efforts during this time were recently acknowledged with the Character Award of Perseverance at the Mayor’s Breakfast in Lee’s Summit. Before serving as the district’s catering manager, Owensby held multiple positions during her 13 year career with the district.

Sharon Owensby always puts the students first. She seeks their input on menu items and tries to incorporate foods they request, including adding vegetable cups, bento boxes, hummus and most recently, a coffee bar in the school. She encourages staff members to get to know students by name and greet them with smiles.

The quality of the meals she provides has not gone unnoticed. A credit to her creativity, Owensby has been asked to prepare meals for football banquets, annual pancake breakfasts and staff meetings. The students and staff know they can rely on her to give them exactly what they want to make their events special, from prom to homecoming celebrations.

As the catering manager, Owensby is visible in the community and uses those opportunities to promote the school nutrition program. After an event, her supervisors often receive many phone calls complimenting Owensby’s professionalism and level of service.

Sharon Owensby’s reputation as a positive person and great leader has driven many to want to join her kitchen’s staff. Job openings don’t usually last long because everyone wants to work for her.

“The impeccable quality of Sharon Owensby’s work is recognized in the kitchen, within the school district and beyond by so many in her community. We are so pleased to recognize her efforts nationally as an inspiring example of a manager committed to a high level of service to her students as well as continued professional development for her and her team,” said SNA President Beth Wallace, MBA, SNS.

Owensby is an active member of Missouri School Nutrition Association (MOSNA) on a state and local level and has twice served as president of her chapter. Lee’s Summit R-7 School District offers employees a stipend to become certified. Owensby encourages all new staff members to continue their professional development and enjoy that additional benefit.

The Manager of the Year Award is given in honor of Louise Sublette, a leader in school nutrition in her state and in the national School Nutrition Association. During her 43 years in the profession, Sublette worked in many areas of foodservice—public schools, colleges, hospitals and elderly feeding programs. Sublette dedicated her career to honoring school nutrition professionals and ensuring those who work in school cafeterias have access to professional development opportunities, empowering them to help their school meal programs flourish.

Owensby was announced as the National Manager of the Year during a School Lunch Hero Day (SLHD) online awards ceremony on May 2. As a national award winner, Owensby will receive an all-expenses paid trip to be recognized at SNA’s Annual National Conference in Orlando in July. The accomplishments of Owensby and all of this year’s SNA award winners will also be recognized in a special publication and promoted in SNA’s annual SLHD social media campaign on Facebook.com/TrayTalk and TrayTalk.org.

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.

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