Central Texas child nutrition employee awarded money for vital work decides to share it with local cafeteria workers

Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 7:03 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A Central Texas child nutrition employee who has worked in school districts for more than two decades was awarded $3,500 for her vital work by a national non-profit, but rather than keep the cash, she dolled it out to cafeteria workers across eleven campuses.

Copperas Cove ISD Director of Child Nutrition and Warehouse Services, Melissa Bryan, was one of only two Texas child nutrition workers to receive the Hunger Hero Award from No Kid Hungry, a national nonprofit with a goal of making sure every child in America has the food they need to grow up healthy and strong.

Bryan was honored by the prestigious award, but wanted to put the cash prize where she felt it was most deserved: with her employees.

“When I was informed that there was monetary prize with the Hunger Hero Award, I knew immediately that I wanted to give back to the child and nutrition professionals out in the cafeteria who by doing what they do everyday, make me shine as their director,” Bryan said.

Bryan visited all 11 Copperas Cove campuses where she personally surprised every child nutrition employee with $50 checks and managers with $100 checks.

“In my 23 years as a director, I have never felt such excitement by being able to honor and recognize all the staff,”  Bryan said.

Bryan said the work the employees do is one of the most important parts of a school day.

1,200 schools in Texas feed more than 5 million school children and it’s never been more important with one in five children facing food insecurities.   She says she wants to “flip the switch” on that.

Inflation and the cancelation of food assistance programs is making situations worse, the nonprofit added.

Bryan said it’s a joy to keep nutritious food on the plates of kids in Copperas Cove where she’s been since 2013, so the students can focus on achieving great things.

“I am a part of a group of child nutrition directors from all across the state of Texas who do outstanding work each day making sure that the kids in our schools are fed. What I do here in Copperas Cove just like child nutrition directors all over Texas is some of the most important work that happens each day in schools,” Bryan said.

Employees who received the checks said they were shocked.

Others said they plan to use the money on things like gas to get to work and groceries.

Bryan said it was a great way to honor those that do so much for others.

“We love going to work each day and seeing the smile on the kids’ faces,” she said.  “We love being a part of the difference that we make in the student’s lives, our district and our community.”