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Price is right for 2019 child nutrition award

Shirley Price’s favorite part of her job is visiting her “babies” before coming to the office to work.

The national, non-profit School Nutrition Association has named Price, a child nutrition administrative assistant in the Lincoln County School District, the 2019 Southeast Regional Employee of the Year. She will be honored at an awards ceremony at the School Nutrition Association’s annual National Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, in July.

“The award recognizes the valuable contribution of school nutrition employees, ones who exhibit a remarkable commitment to both their school meal program and the students they serve,” said Robby Piazzaroli, a SNA spokesman.

Price, a mom to three and a grandmother to six, joined the Lincoln County School District in 2000. She transferred from the district office to the office of child nutrition about seven years ago.

The child nutrition “team” in her office works to prepare students to be healthy, fit and ready to succeed, she said. Her goal is to create programs that get students interested in good nutrition.

Even though her primary role is administrative, Price is a fixture in the district’s cafeterias so she can maintain a personal relationship with kitchen staff, teachers, administrators and students.

She enjoys visiting with the lower elementary students, whom she lovingly calls “the babies” and greets them with a big smile and hug during breakfast. If shorthanded in the cafeteria, Price steps up to help serve students, wipe tables or help staff however she can, Piazzaroli said.

While not required, Price possesses a ServSafe certification, a Level 4 certification in school nutrition and is also a certified school food service program manager. She maintains these certifications in order to fill in and understand other positions in the program. To update her technological skills, Price enrolled in classes for office management technology and accounting technology. Working in a rural district with just over 3,000 students, Price is also responsible for scanning and verifying all of the free and reduced applications.

Nutrition Director Jeremy Berry nominated Price for the award.

He said she is willing to do anything to make nutrition fun for the students and the cafeteria employees. She makes kids want to come to the cafeteria, he said.

She is known for her professionalism and always willing to help staff from other departments in the district central office. To show support for school board members during School Board Appreciation Week, Price coordinated an appreciation luncheon in one of the school cafeterias. To transform the cafeteria experience for students on School Milk Day, she arranged for Berry to wear a cow suit, made a cow vest for herself and ordered “Got Milk?” T-shirts for school nutrition staff.

For the past three years, Price has been a member of Mississippi SNA, serving on several state conference committees. Berry said Price’s ability to work well with others and her dependability have proven to be strong assets for each committee she has served on.

“Shirley Price is truly an inspiration to other employees, going above and beyond what her job requires,” said SNA President Gay Anderson. “She is committed to being a part of the team, connecting with students and providing her colleagues with the support needed for a successful child nutrition program.”