Not all heroes wear capes, but on May 11, Bunnell Elementary School lunch lady, Jessica Conner, did.
Florida School Lunch Hero Week is a statewide, annual event hosted by No Kid Hungry, The Florida Department of Agriculture and The Dairy Council of Florida. They choose five winners to receive the School Lunch Heroes Award based on nominations. This year they had over 400 nominees.
Conner was one of the winners. She was celebrated in the cafeteria by the hosts of the event as well as school district and food services officials, Principal Marcus Sanfilippo and teachers and students.
“She was specially nominated for going the extra mile each morning packaging and delivering boxed breakfasts to the classrooms of voluntary prekindergarten (VPK) and exceptional student education (ESE) kids, as well as knowing every student and their four-digit pin when they go through the lunch line,” Lexie Savedge, account coordinator at Salter Mitchell PR, said.
Conner was nominated by 22 of her peers for her outgoing and heartwarming personality and the generosity she has shown the children.
She has been a food service worker for two years at Bunnell Elementary. She worked as a VPK and preschool teacher for about five years before that.
She’s always smiling and is just a happy person. You could be having a bad day and you can count on Ms. Jessica always cheering you up.” — WENDY WILLIAMS, Bunnell Elementary School teacher
One of her nominations came from Wendy Walters, a teacher at Bunnell Elementary.
“I heard about the school hero nomination coming up and had Jessica send me the link to check it out, and I thought ‘oh my gosh, this is so her!’” Walters said, “She’s always smiling and is just a happy person. You could be having a bad day and you can count on Ms. Jessica always cheering you up.”
At the ceremony, Conner was overwhelmed with emotion. She said she was in disbelief that she actually won the award. As she entered the cafeteria she was cheered by teachers, peers and dozens of Pre-K and first-grade students. She said she went into shock when she was informed about her prizes.
She was awarded a $2,000 cash prize sponsored by No Kid Hungry, a gift basket sponsored by the Dairy Council, a framed photo of Conner as a cartoon superhero and an etched glass trophy with her name.
“I really connect with the kids and the staff, and I try to go out of my way to make the kids feel welcome and special and loved and safe in here every day,” Conner said.