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August Jefferson Awards: Going above and beyond to feed Rochester students

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For the past 20 years, Sherri Knutson has been serving as the Coordinator of Student Nutrition Services for the Rochester Public School District.

Year-round, Sherri and her team work to find new, creative ways to provide nutritious meals for ­­250-thousand students. They brainstorm efficient ways to get those meals to them, and continually stretch their limits to make sure every child has the fuel they need to succeed.

Sherri says that the diversity of tasks on her plate is one of her favorite parts of the job. "That's what challenges you to keep going because you're dealing with so many different things all the time."

Since the pandemic, her team has been working even harder - continuing to provide meals through the summer, even expanding services to provide dinner along with lunch and breakfast.

Coworker Melissa Brandt is amazed by the passion and ingenuity that Sherri has shown during this particularly challenging time."And now because we haven't been able to have kids in the building, Sherri has had to come up with some really creative ways, such as our grab and go sites and our mobile sites, in order to feed kids."

While awaiting a decision from the school board, the team has been thinking outside the box to create new plans on how to adapt to the unique school year and how they can continue to provide meals in each of the three learning options.

No matter the decision, Sherri is condfident she and her team will be able to continue meeting the needs of Rochester students through the upcoming school year. And she says she couldn't do any of it without her team.

"I couldn't stand here today without saying 'thank you' to the wonderful school nutrition staff, because they've really been there to make this happen."

Amanda Morgan

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