New York City Department of Education Hunger Heroes

Join No Kid Hungry New York in honoring these extraordinary professionals from the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Food and Nutrition Services (OFNS), who have gone above and beyond to provide kids with access to nutritious meals every day. The 35 Hunger Heroes come from each of the city’s school districts and food service administration teams. Our Hunger Heroes include inspectors and compliance professionals in addition to the dedicated cafeteria staff who directly serve 800,000 meals to students every day. Read more about these Hunger Heroes below!

Ms. Cambridge wears her uniform and looks at the camera, sitting in the office

Ms. Cambridge is the Cook-in-Charge at PS 188. She provides exceptional service to the students at the school with positive energy. She provides on average 345 breakfast in the classroom (BIC) meals and has contributed great feedback during the implementation of new BIC ideas. Ms. Cambridge is also a great leader and team player. She empowers her team to feel confident in their roles and is an asset not only to OFNS but her school community.

The passion for the job comes through in everything Cheryl does. She is the backbone of her school. Cheryl goes above and beyond with everything that is asked, whether it be showing a new employee how to implement a task, covering at a school that is short staffed, or making sure her students are served what they deserve. Cheryl does this all with a smile and grace. She is the first to welcome you into her kitchen and can answer any question regarding her school.

Ms. Martine wears a red button down and smiles at the camera

Ms. Martinez is a hardworking and dedicated employee to District 3 and the students of PS 84. Ms. Martinez has perfect attendance and is always punctual. Ms. Martinez is loved by her school community and puts the students’ best interests at heart.

Ms. Johnson wears a blue button down and looks at the camera

Beverly Johnson is an assistant cook who has taken on the Cook-In-Charge responsibilities for the past two years at Harlem Prep Charter School. She is an extremely dedicated staff member and a great leader. Her students love her, and her school administration sings her praise. She had originally planned to retire two years ago but due to her love for her students and coworkers, she stayed two more years. She always goes beyond expectations to get the job done and to provide the best experience to our students and school community.

Ms. Bailey, wearing her uniform, smiles at the camera

We are delighted to nominate Chef Racheal Bailey for the Hunger Hero Award in recognition of her outstanding commitment and expertise in running the kitchen at PS 30. With unparalleled efficiency and attention to detail, Chef Bailey executes recipes with precision, presenting each meal with a level of care that goes above and beyond. As a team player, she willingly assists in various kitchen tasks and fosters a supportive environment. Remarkably, Chef Bailey knows her students by name, creating a personal and welcoming atmosphere. Her dedication to cleanliness and organization is evident in the consistently immaculate state of her kitchen. Notably, the salad bar, thoughtfully prepared according to the menu and student preferences, reflects her keen understanding of her audience. Chef Racheal takes immense pride in the appearance of her kitchen and staff, ensuring that her chef coat is always pristine white, and her team is consistently in uniform. Her unwavering commitment to excellence truly makes her a deserving candidate for the Hunger Hero Award.

Ms. Cruz, wearing a hot pink shirt, crosses her arms and smiles at the camera

I am overjoyed to recognize Mrs. Cruz’s work ethics Mrs. Cruz is an energetic, tireless worker with the utmost positive attitude. Mrs. Cruz works behind the scenes to ensure kitchens are properly staffed so we can provide the students of District 6 with a nutritious meal daily. She goes out of her way in every opportunity she has to collaborate toward the success of our food service program. Mrs. Cruz has made herself a vital support in all levels of the district and does it with much grace and professionalism.

Ms. Reid, with her hands in her apron pockets, smiles at the camera

Marcia Reid has worked for NYC Public Schools for 27 years. She is a great asset to our organization. She prepares the meals for the students with love and dedication. Her leadership and enthusiasm inspire the staff to provide the best service and always serve the students with a smile.

Ms. Dunn stands in the kitchen and smiles at the camera

Pamela Dunn started as a School Lunch Helper with the Office of Food and Nutrition Services with a hire date of May 27, 1987. From here, she became a cook in charge with an effective date of May 2, 1994, where she provides excellent customer service and delicious meals to the students at PS 60 in the Bronx. Pamela is known as a responsible person who maintains professionalism with coworkers, her School Food Service Manager, visitors to the kitchen, and school administration. Pamela is known for going above and beyond to ensure her kitchen is kept clean and organized. She is a joy to work with and be around and has been a great asset to the Office of Food and Nutrition Services.

Ms. Diaz, wearing a floral blouse, looks at the camera

Deomatie is the “Price for Success.’ Deomatie, affectionately known as Marla by the school staff, administration, and students, has an exceptional attendance and is always eager to work, even on the holidays and summer. She is very passionate in every aspect of her job and always go above and beyond. Deomatie was recently promoted as the cook in PS 294 the Bronx.

Ms. Pichardo, wearing her uniform, looks at the camera

Yokasta Pichardo is a School Food Service Manager in District 10. She has dedicated 24 years of service to the Office of Food and Nutrition Services and continues to serve the organization with pride. Ms. Pichardo manages one of the largest schools in the district (JFK campus), which houses seven schools and has five kitchens located on five different floors. (Now a part of the Cafeteria Enhancement “CEE”.) Ms. Picardo also manages Bronx Science, which has also recently became a part of the Cafeteria Enhancement. Ms. Pichardo takes pride in serving the students in District 10. She is dedicated, hardworking, and always lends a helping hand when needed. Also, she has built and maintained a strong working relationship with her staff and school administrators.

Ms. Anderson, wearing her uniform, smiles at the camera

Towanela Anderson has been with the Office of Food and Nutrition Services for 16 years. She reports to work with a smile on her face. She is dedicated, caring, and reliable. As per Principal Bornkamp at PS 97, “Towanela is the most caring, hardworking person she has ever met. She truly puts her heart and soul into everything she does and really makes the lives of the students better. She knows many of them by name and will go above and beyond to help them. I am truly blessed to have her by my side at PS 97”.

Mr. Rivas, wearing his uniform, looks at the camera

Jose Rivas is a dedicated cook at P.S. X811, demonstrating unwavering dedication to providing excellent service and nutritious meals for the children. He has inspired and collaborated with several cooks, showing them how to enhance meal service through understanding and following recipes, presentation, and greeting the children with a smile. In addition to his primary responsibilities, Mr. Rivas extends his services to the wider district. He has prepared a variety of meals for the Community Education Council and the Parent Association to sample the delicious and healthy meals that their children are eating.

Ms. Atkinson was nominated by her manager Mr. Adrian Williams. Mr. Williams nominated Ms. Atkinson for her dedication to her work with the Office of Food and Nutrition Services. Ms. Atkinson is dedicated to her job always arriving to work on time. She ensures the kitchen areas is sanitized, as well as the phones, before starting her workday. She always completes the daily responsibilities, which included the equipment temperature logs and sanitization check list. The school administration supports her work and dedication to the food service for the students. Ms. Atkinson always strives to serve quality, well-seasoned, and appealing food on the service line. She is very timely with the services and rarely ever late. Ms. Atkinson works cold supper and two snack programs for the two schools in the building at PS 93. Overall, Ms. Atkinson displays courageous leadership skills, dwells on effective teamwork with others, and communicates very well with the school administration, field office, and OFNS employees. Well done Ms. Atkins, we appreciate you for all that you do for the students at P.S. 93.

I would like to nominate Saadia Lahhab as the Hunger Hero because she is an amazing person. She is always so caring and very professional at all times. Her experience, availability, attention to every detail and reactiveness are qualities anyone should look for in a O.F.N.S staff member (Cook).

Saadia will always offer you that special touch, she is always willing to help anyone who comes into contact with her. She has built a great relationship with the principal and staff members at PS.20.

Ms. Lourdes, wearing a blue dress, smiles at the camera

I am nominating Ms. Facenda for the “No Kid Hunger Hero Hall of Fame”. This is to acknowledge her extraordinary hard work, professionalism, and her commitment towards the students in district 14 community. Ms. Facenda has been a cook since 2016, but in September 2021 she was moved to Grand Street Campus (CEE) to cover the school since the cook retired. At this time, the participation in the school was very low. They were serving about 320 students for lunch, even though we have about 1800 students in the building. After one month in the school, the participation went up to 420 students. The manager and I recognized that she was doing something so different to have such an impact. We were able to persuade her to take the position as senior cook in the school. Shortly after, the school participation went up to 620 students and more. The principals and student body and even the kitchen recognize her hard work, commitment, diligence, and self-motivation. It has been a source of motivation to her kitchen staff and all in the school building.

Ms. Facenda will spend an extra two hours in the school to make sure all the paperwork, FPR book, inventory book, food safety checklist, and temperature log is all on point and she does not care if she gets paid overtime. This is almost every day since the district is short staffed. She never complains, she never wavers, she’s always all in.

Ms. Denis, wearing her uniform, smiles at the camera

PS 32 students in the D15 Gowanus Section of Brooklyn ADORE their Cook Anna Yolene Denis. For this reason, she has been selected 2024’s Hunger Hero Nominee! She is the Children’s Choice!

I interviewed Anna and learned so many positive things about her. Anna came to the US in 1980. She attended night school at Erasmus HS in Flatbush Brooklyn, then Wilfred Academy Beauty school, and nursing school. Anna was employed as a Certified Nursing Assistant for 15 years. When her mother passed away in 1989, she moved back to her childhood home to Haiti and opened a cantina in her family house. She provided free breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals to her community. She eventually returned to the US and applied her culinary talents to the benefit and delight of the NYC Public School children.

In 1991, Anna joined OFNS as a School Lunch Helper at John Jay HS and became a Cook one year later. Today, she works at PS 32 as a covering Chef, as she awaits transfer to a Cafeteria Enhancement Cafeteria. Anna still gives 150%! Anna goes out into the cafeteria and mingles with the students. She says “What’s your name? My name is Anna Banana!” They laugh with joy! She then tells them what’s for lunch with a happy heart.

She will take a minute out to sing “Frere Jacques” in French with the students. When she turns away to return to the kitchen the neighboring tables yell for her “come here!” “Come here!” They yell for her!

The principal loves her! Anna creates so much excitement! She makes dining enjoyable!

Ms. Davis, wearing a white shirt and black trousers, smiles at the camera

Jackie Garner is an exceptional employee. She is always present even when she is not 100%. Jackie always has a positive attitude and accepts anything thrown her way. She is a cook who loves her children in the school, and it shows. The students look forward to seeing her daily.

Ms. Gumbs, wearing her uniform, smiles at the camera

Donalin is truly a remarkable employee who is dedicated to the success of district 17. With almost 10 years of service, she is knowledgeable and committed, a team player who goes above and beyond to assist on a district level when asked to do so. In her successful leadership role as a Cook at Wingate High School, a CEE site, she is respected by her supervisors, manager, kitchen staff, and school administration. Principals in the building are confident to reach out to her directly with any meal service issues. I am pleased to nominate Donalin as a Hunger Hero for 2024.

Ms. Patrick, wearing her uniform, smiles at the cameraMaudriana has been with OFNS for 15 years. She is a dedicated employee that takes ownership to her role as a cook. She is committed, confident, and proud of her work. She is mentor and coach to her team. Maudriana demonstrates that she understands her role and goes over and beyond to ensure students are happily served.

Mr. Davis, wearing his uniform, looks at the camera

Curtis has been employed with the Office of Food and Nutrition Service since 1993. He is a courteous, dedicated, and reliable individual who is an asset to this organization. I commend Curtis for his work ethic and positive attitude towards his students and staff throughout the years of service with OFNS.

Ms. Walters, wearing her uniform, smiles at the camera

Magdalena Walters became the cook in charge at PS 939/MS 936 in September 2022. She quickly became a dedicated cook who puts her heart and soul into cooking delicious and nutritious meals for the students and facility of PS939/MS 936. Her breakfast and lunch meals received so much attention and praise from the students that the facility asked to start purchasing meals every day. She has an eye for detail, garnishing and presenting her food in a beautiful manner. Magdalena is a true leader; she has trained the staff at PS 939/MS 936 to run the kitchen efficiently. Her inventory and food production records are always accurate, the kitchen is spotless, and the administration love her. Ms. Walters is an exemplary employee who goes above and beyond the call of duty.

Ms. Argueta, wearing her uniform, smiles at the camera

It is a great pleasure to nominate Lillian Argueta for the “Hunger Hero Hall of Fame.” Lillian goes above and beyond any day of the week. She gets the job done no matter the circumstances. Lillian has been a great asset to the kitchen. The meals that she prepares aren’t only delicious, but the line and salad bar always look great and appealing to the students. This has opened up the students’ palates to try new and healthier options. I believe Lillian deserves this award for all of her hard work and dedication.

Mr. Mannan, wearing his uniform, looks at the camera

MD is a dedicated employee that works every day. He cares about his lob and the students he feeds. He has a great relationship with his kitchen staff. Administration speaks highly of him. He will be a great nominee because he works hard and is always prepared.

Ms. Gomes, wearing her uniform, smiles at the camera

Shellon Gomes has been with OFNS for approximately 10 years. As the cook in charge she oversees a staff of five people, along with training the sub employees after they come from the training sites. Ms. Gomes’ passion for food and its presentation shows her love and dedication to the organization. She also work closely with our incoming cook-in-charge. Ms. Gomes’ attendance is excellent.

Mr. Secor wears his uniform and smiles at the cameraMr. Secor has been a School Food Service Manager for 24 years. Since day one he has been a major contributor to the organization. Mr. Secor goes above and beyond to assist his staff, fellow managers, and supervisors. He is a very active manager in his school community. He makes sure that he is involved and engaged in all school activities to promote OFNS and support the students during meal service. Mr. Secor is a dedicated member of OFNS and a valuable resource to the school community.

Frances, wearing her uniform, leans against a work table and smiles at the camera

Frances consistently goes above and beyond to serve the students at John Bowne High School. Her service line and salad bar are always attractive, enticing students to eat daily. This attention to detail is evident in the daily count of over 2000 meals. She exemplifies professionalism, organization, and genuine care for her team. The kitchen is immaculate, and even in her absence, you can find the team working hard, which speaks to her leadership and staff empowerment. I am proud to nominate Frances Lamagna as our Hunger Hero for 2024.

Jennifer, sitting in a desk chair, tilts her head and looks at the camera

Jennifer Mootoo has been working for OFNS for 12 years. Throughout her journey, she has set a high standard of excellence. She is a dedicated and hard-working individual. Jennifer always displays a positive outlook and implements goals and initiatives successfully. This school year, her school received a new service style called CEE. This type of service offers additional meal choices to the students and requires our staff to individualize each student meal and place into a self-serve station. Jennifer led her team to take on this new responsibility with ease. We were truly impressed with how effortless she made this transition appear. Her school went from feeding about 600 lunches to about 1400 lunches daily. This was such a magnificent accomplishment. I am truly thankful for her ongoing contribution to the District 26 team.

Frances, wearing a pearl necklace and white shirt, looks at the camera

Frances began her employment with the Office of Food & Nutrition Service in District 27 in 2005 and has never wavered in her commitment to the students of New York City. Despite her hour and a half journey to work each morning, she is always energized, focused and ready to lead her thirteen-member A-Team. Her simple and resounding motto “We are here for the kids” is what motivates and compels her to show up and deliver on the promise to students. Frances cooks up over 1300 healthy and delicious meals for the students of MS 137 and three off-site locations each day and never forgets to add her special ingredient, love, in all her recipes.

Lenor, with her hands in her apron pockets, smiles at the camera

I have worked as Lenor’s supervisor for almost 9 years. I can attest to her excellence and worth as an outstanding employee. Lenor has been working with our organization for over 23 years. Her dedication and devotion to her students and staff is shown with much passion on a daily basis. Lenor is a pleasure to have on my team.

Donovan, wearing a cap and his uniform, smiles at the camera

Mr. Pellington is very reliable, punctual, and works very well with his staff. He cooks his food with love and the kids know it. Doing what is expected of him comes like second nature and he leads by example. If I call on him to help with any emergencies, he is always ready to give the helping hand and his respect and collaboration with his manager is exemplary.

Ms. Perez, wearing her uniform, leans back against a window and smiles at the camera

District 30 is honored to nominate Ms. Isabel Perez from Hunter’s Point Campus. Isabel is a diligent and detail-oriented person. She is always putting in extra effort to ensure that her work is of the highest quality. During the 2022-2023 school year, her school was faced with an unexpected challenge; the Cook in Charge resigned, and the assistant cook accepted a promotion. Ms. Perez, who is a School Lunch Helper, did not miss a beat while temporarily stepping into the cook in charge role. As a result, the students she feeds express their appreciation for her hard work frequently. Her ability to adapt and rise to many challenges is because of her hard work and dedication to OFNS for over nine years. She is also an inspiration to her fellow coworkers. Ms. Perez is one of the many exceptional OFNS employees who make us feel fortunate to work where we work and do what we do – which is to proudly serve the students of NYC.

Ms. Font, wearing a beige top, smiles at the camera

Angela Font has been with the Office of Food & Nutrition Services for 16 years. She started as a Sub School Lunch Helper in PS 65 and later became the became the Cook in Charge, implementing a clean, well-organized, and efficient kitchen, all while being an outstanding leader. Ms. Font served that community until her recent transfer to Tottenville High School. She’s been monumental in assisting the district where we’ve experienced several cook shortages due to illness and retirement, without complaint or fuss. Her answer has always been yes. Therefore, we recognize her for her dedication and commitment to equitably service for the students and communities of District 31, Staten Island.

Ms. Sirin, wearing her uniform, smiles

I nominated Ms. Enriqueta, aka “Chi Chi,” the name the staff call her. To the children at P.S. 106 ,“grandma,” as she is affectionally known. Ms. Enriqueta has been with the Office of Food and Nutrition Services since 1994. She is the most senior staff in the district. I nominated her due to her commitment and dedication to her job. She arrives early, even in inclement weather, travelling all the way from downtown Brooklyn to get to district 32 in Bushwick. A trip where she takes three different buses to get to work and still arrives early before the other staff. Ms. Enriqueta, when I visit her at the school, would always greet me in the most welcoming way, offering me a cup of coffee or tea. When I ask how she is feeling, she would say, “this knee bothers me.” She would then slap her knee and do a little dance. She is always happy to be at work. Ms. Enriqueta is loved by all at the school, especially the children, her adopted “grandchildren.” We love you Chi Chi, keep up the good work.

Mr. Rivera, wearing a blue suit jacket, smiles at the camera

Robert has been working on the Cafeteria Enhancement Experience project, where he has helped modify and beautify over 150 school cafeterias and serving areas. Robert has a passion for perfection and treats each school as if it was his own, When Robert leaves a school kitchen it is set up for success. He often rearranges equipment and production areas to be more efficient and worker friendly. By his taking such care in his work it has a direct impact not only on the employees that serve the children, but the students themselves as they enjoy the Cafeteria Enhancement Experience. He truly is a Hunger Hero.

Ms. Klotsos, wearing a navy top and black blazer, smiles at the camera with her hand on her hip

Eugenia is the heart of the IPM Department that never misses a beat. She communicates with everyone and anyone in the field, from kitchen staff to building administration and everyone in between. Any pest issues that are brought to her attention she works on resolving as soon as possible so that the students learn in a safe comfortable environment. She is always going above and beyond to keep the IPM Department on track.

Ms. Moyet, sitting in a car, smiles at the camera

Aida Moyet has shown a tremendous amount of passion and dedication to enforcing proper food safety and handling practices within the organization. Aida has dedicated 19 years to OFNS and continues to provide exceptional service and assistance to our kitchens and staff. She goes above and beyond to make sure kitchen staff are provided with the assistance needed at the time of her inspections.

Mr. Mcbride, wearing a black tie and suit jacket, smiles at the camera

Eric Mcbride has been working in the New York City Department of Education Office of Food and Nutrition Services for five years. He started in March of 2019 as a Senior School Helper. He joined the Compliance Unit in September 2022 as a Compliance Advisor and was only absent from work once since joining the unit. This demonstrates Eric’s commitment to ensure that Office of Food and Nutrition Services receives the financial resource it needs to continue to provide safe and nutritious meals to children in New York City schools. It is for this reason we nominate Eric Mcbride for the Hunger Hero Recognition.

Mr. Gilmore, wearing a grey hoodie, smiles in front of a yellow wall

Charles Gilmore is a Warehouse Supervisor with 39 years of service to the NYC public school system. His knowledge and experience has helped him to develop the loader handlers, that in turn deliver PCM orders to the schools on a daily basis. Charles has set the example and the standard which all the loader handlers look up to.