KINSTON, N.C. — Annie Davis, the assistant cafeteria manager at Northwest Elementary School who went the extra mile to cover staffing shortages at other LCPS schools during the pandemic, has been named the 2022 Southeast Region Employee of the Year by the School Nutrition Association.
Davis’s award was officially announced Monday during SNA’s School Lunch Hero Day online awards ceremony. It is the fourth time since 2019 that the SNA has honored an LCPS child nutrition employee with either a statewide or regional U.S. award.
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, according to the SNA.
A member of the child nutrition staff for more than a decade, Davis has been at Northwest for two years. But it’s her willingness to be mobile that made her invaluable the past two school years, when she stepped up as temporary manager at other schools where illness or quarantine left cafeteria staff shorthanded.
The location matters less than the customers to Davis. “I love working with the kids,” she said. “That makes my day, just to see them smile.”
Danelle Smith, LCPS child nutrition director, describes Davis as a creative problem solver who, regardless of the worksite, is able to find efficient solutions and suggest different ways of doing something to benefit students or staff members.
“Our cafeteria managers and cafeteria assistants have worked so hard these last three years going above and beyond what they had done in the past to ensure that our students are fed no matter the circumstance,” Smith said. “Ms. Davis has earned this award but she is also representative of everyone in our department working with the many other departments along with the school staff at each school, all coming together to meet the needs of our students in order for them to learn in the classroom.
“Students cannot learn if they are hungry but they will grow and learn when they are nourished and ready to take on a new day.”
Smith also lauded Davis for her attention to detail when it comes to children with food allergies, for her communication and leadership skills and for her positive relationships with co-workers and students.
The accomplishments of Davis and all of this year’s SNA award winners will also be recognized in a special publication and promoted in SNA’s annual School Lunch Hero Day social media campaign on Facebook.com/TrayTalk and TrayTalk.org.
In 2019, SNA named Ada Hood of North Lenoir High School as the state’s Cafeteria Manager of the Year and in 2020 Cheryl Hinson of Moss Hill Elementary School was honored with the same statewide award. Also in 2020, Andre Clark of the cafeteria staff at Contentnea-Savannah K-8 School was named Employee of the Year for the Southeast Region.