CUBA CITY—With 15 years of experience in the kitchen of the Cuba City School District, Janet Loeffelholz was recognized for her contributions to the school’s nutrition program.
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) selected Loeffelholz as the state recipient for the 2015 Director of the Year Award. The nominees are chosen based on program enhancement, staff development, school involvement, SNA involvement and community involvement.
“On behalf of SNA, I would like to thank you for the great work you do every day to ensure well-nourished students are prepared for success,” Julia Bauscher, SNA president, stated in the award letter to Loeffelholz.
Loeffelholz was nominated for the award. She said a food service director from another school wanted to nominate her, but didn’t know enough of the school’s details, so she asked high school principal Jim Boebel to handle it.
She said she plans to attend the state SNA conference in Green Bay in June to receive her award. She was also invited to the national SNA conference in July in Salt Lake City, Utah, to receive an award, but she is unsure if she’ll go.
Loeffelholz started her food service career in High School. She worked her way to assistant manager at McDonald’s in Platteville, took the assistant manager position at KFC in Clinton, Iowa, and eventually became manager there. In 2000 she returned to Southwest Wisconsin to take a part-time position working three hours a day for the Cuba City School food service program. When her director decided to leave, she took the job and began running the school’s nutrition program.
Over the years, she has helped improve the program by starting a breakfast program 10 years ago, improving the lunch and breakfast program’s budget and offering better customer service.
“Customer service is huge, probably the biggest part of a successful program,” Loeffelholz said. “They’re kids we’re serving, but we still treat them as customers, with respect and a smile.”
Breakfast is served at the high school from 6:45-8 a.m. and at the elementary school from 7:30-8:30 a.m. Approximately 300 people are served breakfast throughout the district, with another 550 to 600 served lunch.
“There are 500 appetites to keep happy,” Loeffelholz said. “We stick with what the kids like and keep eating. We’ve got a great bunch of kids.”
She said if a student doesn’t like an entrée, they have the option of getting a chef salad instead.
“There are so many guidelines to cover that it becomes a lot of work to organize the menu,” Loeffelholz said. “We tend to stick with our favorites. We have to provide a number of fruits and vegetables, with certain colors, calories and sodium requirements. It takes a lot of planning.”
She said she tries to get as much local food as she can, but in this area it is difficult. She is able to get apples from Gays Mills, and tries to get more options each year.
Loeffelholz is joined by full-time employee Cindy Bartell at the high school. At the elementary school, full-time employee Joyce Donar works with part-time staff Kelly Banfield and Char Munyon.
SNA is a national, nonprofit professional organization representing nearly 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. The Wisconsin Chapter of SNA has over 1,150 members, over half of which are certified, and another 30 have achieved their School Nutrition Specialist Credential.
The Director of the Year Award recognizes school nutrition directors for the contributions they have made throughout their school nutrition career. Nominees must be currently and for the past five years a SNA member in the district director or major city director sections and currently hold a SNA certification in school nutrition or the SNS Certification. The nominee must also have served in at least one position on the state or national executive board or as a member on a state or national committee.