Karen Sarno, Supervisor of Food Services for Carroll County Public Schools, is the recipient of the 2019-2020 Director of the Year Award presented by the Maryland School Nutrition Association (MdSNA).
While the nomination process began before the COVID-19 school closures, the Maryland SNA recognizes the widespread efforts of school nutrition professionals across the state, working on the frontlines to ensure needy students have access to healthy meals during the pandemic. Criteria for the award include program enhancement, staff development, school involvement, SNA involvement, and community outreach.
Sarno became Supervisor of Food Services for CCPS in 2011. During that time, she has enhanced the food service program by offering many themed days throughout the year to help increase participation countywide. She has encouraged special giveaways and occasional special items on the menu, such a doughnut on Fastnacht Day or a frozen treat for the Super Bowl themed day.
In the area of staff development, Sarno has provided food service employees with functional Spanish lessons. Staff members learned basic words and phrases in Spanish, allowing them to improve their communication with students. She also arranged a workshop entitled “Be a Leader … No Title Required”, which gave staff an opportunity to earn continuing education credits and to meet food vendors and hear about their products.
Sarno promotes the Farm to School Program each year and plans special activities for students, including taste testing of locally grown fruits and vegetables and visits from Carroll County farmers. Local produce also is featured on the daily lunch menu. She also has involved members of the Board of Education in the food services program by presenting detailed information on the program, providing examples of typical school meal breakfast and lunch trays, and inviting them to visit the cafeterias, see the kitchen and serving lines, and enjoy a nutritious lunch.
Sarno is active in the Maryland School Nutrition Association. She has served as president and is currently serving as the chairperson of the Awards and Scholarship Committee. She encourages the food service staff to earn their professional certification and devotes a portion of each staff meeting to helping them prepare for the process.
Sarno has formed partnerships with many community groups and organizations to provide meals during the summer months, ensuring that children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is out. Sarno has reached out to the community by giving presentations to parent groups to provide information on federal child nutrition program guidelines and the school food services program, providing a PowerPoint presentation and photos of the breakfast and lunch choices available for students and teachers. The food services program purchased a van to provide mobile meals to students who would benefit from the summer meal program. She has been the leader in providing more than 460,000 meals to students during the school closure program, greatly expanding meal service to students.
About School Nutrition Association:
(SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 school nutrition professionals across the country. Founded in 1946, SNA and its members are dedicated to making healthy school meals and nutrition education available to all students. For more information on school meals, visit www.SchoolNutrition.org/SchoolMeals.