OKEECHOBEE- The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services honored Seminole Elementary food service worker Jeneane Rhuda on May 7.
During the month of April, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, its Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness, No Kid Hungry and the Dairy Council of Florida called for nominees for the designation of 2021 School Lunch Heroes. Five were chosen from schools around the state.
“School nutrition professionals are crucial to the success of Florida’s students, because healthy bodies lead to ready minds. During the pandemic, these heroes have demonstrated exceptional ingenuity by implementing new safety protocols for in-person students and preparing to-go meals for distance learners,” said Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.
Throughout this school year, school nutrition professionals have had to work differently and harder at their jobs than any other normal year. From implementing new safety protocols for in-person students to preparing to-go meals for distance learners, they’ve gone above and beyond their normal day-to-day routines.
“The pandemic literally changed everything about preparing and serving food to children,” said Okeechobee County School Food Service supervisor Lisa Bell. “Mrs. J, you are truly a gem. You’re silly, loud, and a free spirit and we love all those things about you. I’ve seen you buying clothes and bicycles out of your own pocket because you knew that the kids needed to not only have their basic needs met, but also needed to be emotionally filled.”
While out delivering meals to kids in Okeechobee during the summer of 2020, Jeneane saw one child carrying his two siblings on one bike. The next day, Jeneane went out with her own money and bought all three of them new bikes.
In addition to being named one of five School Lunch Heroes Jeneane also received a $2,000 cash prize from No Kid Hungry, and a Tampa Bay Buccaneers Prize Pack from the Dairy Council of Florida.