School Nutrition Association recognizes Lori Dyson as Employee of the Year

COURTESY PHOTO - Lori Dyson, lead cook at Estacada High School, was named the Northwest regional Employee of the year. The national nonprofit School Nutrition Association (SNA) has named Lori Dyson, lead cook at Estacada High School, the Northwest regional employee of the year.

The award recognizes the valuable contribution of school nutrition employees who exhibit a commitment to both their school meal program and the students they serve.

Dyson was chosen because of her ability to think outside the box and bring innovative recipes and systems to her kitchen. She is an instrumental member of the district's team, working with nutrition department staff to help with menu suggestions, production systems and marketing ideas. Dyson has been working for the district for nine years.

"It was really exciting to get the news and it is always nice to be appreciated," Dyson said. "Our entire staff works really hard, so it was nice to know that people are noticing that work."

Dyson was also recognized for her leadership during the pandemic as she helped create a smooth transition from in-person breakfast and lunch service to prepping over 800 bags of to-go meals daily. She and her team worked closely with the district's transportation staff to ensure that students received their food as they distributed the bags via bus routes.

"It was interesting time to be to lead, but we ended up making even stronger connection within multiple departments that don't usually work together," Dyson said.

Dyson said that they way she tries to make her department feel welcoming is by bringing humor and levity to stressful situations.

She is always ready with a smile for both students and staff and always steps up to lend a hand when needed. "You know I try to keep everyone happy," Dyson said. "No one wants to come to work in a negative environment, so I try keep it fun."

Dyson was given the recognition as the Northwest regional Employee of the Year during a School Lunch Hero Day (SLHD) online awards ceremony on Monday, May 2. The accomplishments of Dyson and all of this year's SNA award winners will also be recognized in a special publication and promoted in SNA's annual SLHD social media campaign on and

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