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, 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. For the first time, this year’s 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!

Rosa has been with OFNS for over 20 years. Rosa is a ray of sunshine! Her laughter, kindness, patience and dedication that she puts into her job brings smiles and joy to not only our students but employees as well. Rosa goes above and beyond to make sure that the best service is provided.

Ms. Svetlana Krasilnikova (Lana) has been a cook for 8 years in District 2. She has shown true dedication not only to her students but the district as a whole. She strives to provide nutritious and delectable food that encourages student participation so much that most, if not all, students at P.S. 40 look forward to her meals daily. Through the pandemic Ms. Krasilnikova welcomed the difficult challenges and overcame all obstacles to not only provide presentable and balanced meals to the community but also to the local students in the neighborhood. Ms. Lana is a true master of her craft when it comes to providing appealing and flavorful food to the students. She understands what the students enjoy and makes it her business to provide the students with an array of options based on dietary needs or lifestyle (vegan/vegetarian). I am proud of her dedication and hard work through the years. I feel as though based on her dedication and work ethic she is more than qualified to be named a Hunger Hero of 2023!

Mr. Newby has been with the Office of Food and Nutrition Services for 14 years. Mr. Newby is a hardworking and dedicated employee. He goes above and beyond to ensure the needs of the operations are met and the students of PS 113 are fed wholesome and nutritious meals.

“Mr. Raj” as students like to call him, is the example of a dedicated employee who always shows up to work with a smile. He knows “his kids” as he likes to call them and knows each one of them by name.
Mr. Raj is the cook at Park East High School, a one staffed kitchen. He goes above and beyond to ensure that students are well fed and enjoying the experience when served OFNS meals.

Raylette Grant goes above and beyond for her students. She effectively communicates her students’ preferences and follows up to make sure that their needs are being met. She is famous for her “you matter”.

Upon first meeting Raylette, she shared story about how she shares that quote with her students. She consistently displays her passion in providing both the best food and service and proves that all her students matter.

What makes Raylette stand out from the rest is how she executes the use of what is on menu, and while following standards puts her own twist on things. On Plant Powered Friday, she will make her dishes more appealing by her way of garnishing. When the menu calls for a salad, it pops with color that encourages students to come to the line.

Overall, Raylette does her job and while getting her job done, she makes sure the students want to come to the line and look forward to lunch.

Wendoly is an exceptional cook who goes above and beyond the call of duty. She is very passionate about food and her daily meals offering shows that every day. She partners well with the school administration and wellness in the school and is very creative in presenting and encouraging healthy eating habits for the student population.

Ms. Hunte goes above and beyond to provide the students the best service. She leads and motivates her staff with love and dedication.

Jacklyn is hard working, punctual and committed to the Office of Food and Nutrition Services. She demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to the students and school administration of MS 301, where she provides meals via the Cafeteria Enhancement Experience (CEE). She possesses all the qualities that a team leader must have and goes above and beyond to ensure she provides the best food service possible.

Ms. Bobb is exceptional in all ways. Ms. Bobb has covered schools whenever a cook is needed at short notice and she always does this with a smile. She always does the extra just to make sure our kids always get fed a nutritious meal. Ms. Bobb always take the initiative to do an exceptional job especially with the salad bar. Ms. Bobb is rarely ever out from work, through snow or rain Ms. Bobb is there, ready with a smile and a meal for our students.

Ms. Julie Zambito has been employed with OFNS for 29 years. Ms. Zambito is the School Food Service Manager for PS 56, PS 307, Walton HS Complex, and Academy of Mount Saint Ursula in District 10 in the Bronx, where she is doing an outstanding job. Ms. Zambito is a team player who steps in and assist her immediate staff and co-workers whenever needed. She is a very organized, dedicated, hardworking individual. Ms. Zambito takes pleasure in the role she plays in ensuring that NYC students are receiving and have access to healthy meals daily.

Nicola Jackson is a dedicated worker who takes much pride in her work. She is passionate about cooking and as the cook in charge she is an exemplary leader. She has fostered a great working relationship with the school administration and students. She has been an inspiration to her fellow co-workers. Her outstanding performance creates a wonderful dining experience for the students at the PS 483 Matilda Avenue School.
She ensures that all students receive a delicious and nutritious meal. Thank you for your hard work and dedication, which has positively impacted school meals.

Yolanda Brown is a true hero in the fight against hunger. She is dedicated to ensuring that every student has access to healthy meals. She has a warm smile, a kind heart, and a tireless spirit, always willing to go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of those she serves.
Ms. Brown’s genuine care and concern for the wellbeing of the children at Bronx Career and College Preparatory High School is evident in everything she does. Her passion for cooking has been channeled into providing nutritious, wholesome meals that will help the students to grow, learn, and thrive.
When I learned of a setback at one of our Pre-K sites regarding the lack of meals, I immediately reached out to Ms. Brown for assistance. She graciously stepped in, cooked, and prepared the hot satellite meals. With her dedicated efforts, the meals were delivered promptly for service, ensuring that the children at the site were not left hungry.
Ms. Brown is a true example of what it means to serve others with dedication, compassion, and excellence. We are grateful for her commitment to making a positive impact in the lives of the children we serve.

Juan is the Assistant Cook at P.S. 133. He is the first person in daily and the last person to leave. He works the breakfast, lunch, and supper programs at his school. The students depend on Juan to deliver their breakfast to the classrooms daily. He come to work every day because he knows the students depend on him.


I am nominating Ms. Paulina Valdez Bautista for the “No kid Hungry Hunger Hero Hall of Fame” to acknowledge her extraordinary effort, professionalism and her commitment towards our organization. As a manager she stands out. She never waivers in her commitment to excellence and her ability to manage schools. Her dedication to the job and her schools and community is greatly appreciated. Ms. Valdez has been a manager since May 2010, I have been her supervisor since July 2016, I admire her strong work ethics, Her diligence, self-motivation and focus have been a source of motivation to her schools and staff. On a daily basis Ms. Valdez strives to make our customers (students) and their needs the most important issues of her workday. One particular incident comes to mind about Ms. Valdez: she has been covering multiple schools, but when a new manager was released to our district, I had to take a school away from her to give to the new manager. When she informed her staff, the assistant cook called me begging and pleading for me to keep her as their permanent manager. This story is not an isolated incident, it happens in all the schools she covers and in every one of them she over exceeded above and beyond. She has covered almost every school in this district. She never complains, she is always ready to jump in as a cook, heavy duty person or school lunch helper. Whenever there is a need, she’s there to meet me. Ms. Valdez is ready to assist at any time and in any possible way. During summer she is the only manager that can properly manage our biggest production site without any issues. 

Ms. Valdez deserves this recognition and more, it has been a pleasure to work with her. She truly is the embodiment of a public servant.

Below in Orie’s own words…
As a child growing up in the early 1960s, I lived with scarcity on a daily basis and experienced first hand what it feels like to go to bed hungry and not want to talk about it.
I didn’t want to add another burden onto my mother’s shoulders and my shame of our situation stopped me from talking to others about our circumstances. Sadly, my story is not unique; there were other families struggling back then and many families struggling today with food insecurity.
As an adult who worked 26 years in the non-profit sector, it made me so happy to learn that NYC was providing free meals to all students. If this program existed during my childhood, it would have helped my single-parent family tremendously.
This fueled my desire to work at OFNS; to be a steward in this important mission, pay tribute to my mother and come full circle during the last leg of my working career 🙂

We are fortunate to have Orie on our D15 team. She plays an essential role, as Assistant Cook, at PS 130. Orie is recognized for putting student dietary interests first. She engages in menu discussions with the Student Council. The feedback she receives creates buzz and awareness and call to action. Students mentioned that the packaged bean burritos are hot like “lava”. She now allows the product to rest for 5 minutes before service. As well, students mentioned that the packaged grilled cheese is too hot to handle and open. Orie now cooks the grilled cheese without the package. Students see these measurable changes and are grateful. Orie’s Kitchen Manager shared a sweet story with me. He explained that only apple cinnamon granola was in stock in the storage room. However, one particular student repeatedly asked for Blueberry granola. Orie offered to visit a neighboring site to pick up blueberry granola to bring back to PS 130 Annex for this student. Another time a student asked Orie “When are we getting Guacamole”? Orie wishes she could tell that student in March! Unfortunately, he graduated three years ago.

Ms. Vanda always has a positive spirit. The students at her school are always excited to see her and have a conversation with her. With Vanda working as a cook in a high school she sees a lot of the students grow into mature adults by their senior year. She feels that those students are just as much her children. Ms. Vanda goes above and beyond to ensure the students are fed, despite obstacles like staff shortage or equipment down.

Brian is a dedicated employee who has served the Office of Food and Nutrition Services for over 22 years. He is currently assigned to MS61; his reliability and integrity is indicative of a true leader motivating and supporting his staff while ensuring stellar service to students daily. Brian has a wonderful relationship with the school administration, his manager and staff. With his high level of professionalism, I am pleased to nominate Brian as our Hunger Hero.

Ms. Prescott has been a cook since 2015. She is the teamwork champion. Whenever nobody wants to work during a holiday, she is always available to cover whenever she is needed. She is consistently good and reliable at all times. She is good in quality in performance and able to be trusted. District 18 can count on her at the time. She is an asset to District 18.

Allison Boston is part of the Van Siclen Community School Campus she has worked with administration to ensure that the students have a healthy meals. Ms. Boston is working with both the students and the Chef Council offering sampling of recipes created so that the students have a voice in what is on the menu. She is caring passionate in the meals she prepares for her school community. Her voice is for the students she serves and this is why is nominated for No Kid Hungry Hero.

Ms. Spata is an extraordinary employee who goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that her kitchen is well maintained and her team and students are well taken care of. She maintains a flexible schedule which includes working 12 hour shifts from 6a.m. – 6 p.m. when the job requires, and she does it with a smile . Her dedication, creativity, professionalism and passion to OFNS is a great asset.

It is with great pride that I write on behalf of Lisa Marchese, nominee for “No Kid Hungry New York-Hunger Hero”. I truly believe that Lisa Marchese is the best choice for the award because she continually shows OFNS our values of kindness and humanitarianism to all students that enter our cafeteria. Her devotion, dedication, and commitment are admirable. Lisa goes above and beyond to ensure that all students have nutritious, enticing, and appealing meals every single day.

Lisa is hardworking, with strong working ethics that takes pride in all her work. She has an excellent attendance record and goes above and beyond everyday. Lisa strives to continuously increase our participation by promoting our meals and always encourages the people she works with to give their 100 percent commitment to all students. Lisa’s passion and sincerity to her job is highly impressive. Lisa takes the time to know the students that pass our service line and the students always feel welcomed.

Mrs. Schein has been doing her job for 25 years. Just an excellent person cooking for students with special needs.
She deserves it.

Ms. Tsannez Nash is the current manager in District 23. She oversees four buildings as part of her cluster of schools, and for the past three years, she has covered an additional four sites. She is one of Brooklyn 1 training managers with an arsenal of well-round managers under her mentorship. Her staff praises her as an effective manager that is consistent and fair with her management style. Her professionalism is noticed throughout District 23’s administration and community.

Barbara Targonska came to OFNS 23 years ago. A few years after she started working for the OFNS, she became a Cook and she is currently the Cook at PS 290 in Ridgewood, Queens. She came from a small town of Poland, raising chickens, ducks, livestock, cattle, sheep, etc. While having a conversation with Barbara in one of my site visits, she expressed to me the joy she feels when she sees the students eating the meals she prepares for them. She said “It’s very satisfying. I care a lot for my students, and I want to make sure they eat well.” Barbara’s passion its being in the kitchen, cooking with her grandmother and mother beside her since she was a little girl. Always learning the basics of the culinary arts. She takes pride of cooking for the students. Another passion of Barbara its giving to the community, always volunteering in schools, church and local charity.

It is with honor to nominate our Cook in Charge, Angela D’Amico, as this year’s Hunger Hero. No matter the situation, she always rises to the occasion. Her performance is always top-notch, even when she takes on more work. Her overall positive attitude is an asset. In addition to being recognized as District 25’s Hunger Hero, she’s also our Cook Ambassador. Her daily goal as a Cook in Charge is to make sure that there’s nothing incomplete by the end of day. “We all work as a team to get the job done.” Angela has been with the Office of Food and Nutrition Services since 2015. Prior to working for us, she managed European Boutiques as a Store Manager, and also worked in Accounting. She became a Cook for the DOE due to the scheduling and loves her job! We are very lucky to have such a great team player like Angela on our side!

Diane is a highly valued employee that has worked for our organization since 1993. As the Cook in Charge at Francis Lewis HS, she has an energetic and joyful personality that flows throughout the kitchen. She sets a tone of dedication and excellence for her coworkers as they serve over 1700 meals daily. While visiting the school, you can really feel the love and hard work that she puts into the student’s meals. We are so thankful to have her as part of our team.

Written by Bidemi Sokunbi, a very proud manager.
Ms. Jasoda Sanassie has been an inspiration to me since she began working in 2018. Over these past 5 years she has proved herself as dependable, reliable, and trustworthy. She is a team leader although Ms. Sanassie has not taken an official cook or assistant cook position. She goes above and beyond for the students, and she has even volunteered to cover other school when staffing issues arose. She is an employee you can count on time and time again.
She has been working in the role of an assistant cook at Far Rockaway High School for this past year now because I don’t have one.
Her punctuality is superb, she demonstrates leadership, and not a follower. She is always in the kitchen except when she is on her lunch break.
Ms. Jasoda is a superstar, she has passion for her job, and she comes to work with a warm smile each day.
She is such an inspiration to me and all I can say is she is the most deserving of this honor of being District 27’s Hunger Hero.

Keisha has been a cook in charge for over 22 years. The results she has achieved are impressive. I am so grateful to have someone like her on my team who is willing to go above and beyond to achieve such great success for her team. Her kindness, caring, and involvement in serving her students on a daily basis is impeccable. Keisha’s work ethic is unsurprised. Her passion and ambition are infectious and her willingness to go the extra mile rubs off on her entire team and has a tangible impact on her students.

Ms. Sutherland is a very dedicated worker. She is always on time, always at work, and is willing to be flexible when we are in need. At PS 33 she is loved by administration and the students, she gets along with the kitchen staff, and she maintains a very clean kitchen. She truly leads by example.

We are proud to nominate Patricia Khayi, Cook in Charge of PS 166. Patricia’s dedication to making sure all the students of PS 166 have a delicious and nutritious meal when they come for breakfast or lunch is unwavering. She embodies all the characteristics of a great leader and is appreciated by her Office of Food and Nutrition Services (OFNS) kitchen team, as well as the school administration of PS 166. Patricia’s career with OFNS spans 25 years, starting out as a School Lunch Helper, then becoming an Assistant Cook and then as a Cook in Charge. In September of 2008, she became the cook of PS 151 where she had that same dedication to those students. In November of 2019, she became the cook at PS 166. The students in PS 166 value the hard work that goes into preparing their meals and let Patricia know when they see her on the serving lines.
Patricia genuinely cares about the well-being of every student at PS 166. When asked what she loves most about her job, Patricia replied, “I love when the children are happy. I want to make sure they go home with a full belly.”
Congratulations Patricia, on a well-deserved honor.

Mrs. Miranda Saad has worked for the Office of Food & Nutrition Services for the last 29 years, and as a Training Cook at CSI High School for International Studies for the last 5 years. She has done and continues to do an amazing job, while being an exemplary and exceptional Cook in Charge she leads by example and runs the kitchen effectively, confidently with quiet strength and true leadership. Mrs. Saad is talented, accomplished, skilled, a multitasker that implements all that is required of her. She does an excellent job assisting with training/teaching new trainee. She’s worked to increase breakfast and lunch participation while encouraging and motivating staff and students. Miranda works exceptionally well under pressure, shows excellent leadership skills, is well liked and highly respected by her staff, the district and the school administration.

Ms. Munro has been with the Office of School and Nutrition Services for the past twenty-seven years. Ms. Munro is very dedicated to her job and is rarely absent, she even works on holidays as needed. When you visit her assigned school, I.S. 347 School of Humanities the first thing you notice is how clean her kitchen is. She takes pride in her work and is a good role model to her staff. Ms. Munro was the first cook in the district with a CEE school. Her workload increased, and she arose to the challenge to get the job done. Ms. Munro is well loved and respected by the school community which she serves. That is the reason I am honored to nominate Ms. Lorene Munro as the Hunger Hero for District 32.

Thomas started working in 1993 with the Office of Food and Nutrition Services in District 11 as a Sr. School Lunch Helper, and has since worked as a Task Force Technical Advisor and now a Compliance Coordinator with the Office of Food & Nutrition Services.

As an Advisor, Thomas works closely with schools to ensure they follow State and Federal Regulations, which enables students to receive nutritious meals and OFNS to receive the maximum reimbursement throughout the City of New York.

Thomas has shown professionalism, he is rarely absent and is always willing to assist his colleagues. These are just some of the many reasons why he is an example of a Hunger Hero!!

IMMACULATE SEMILIA, aka Tina, is a HACCP Advisor. She is an employee with over 22 years of service with the Office of Food and Nutrition Services. Tina was employed as a School Lunch Helper in the kitchen, and she worked her way up to the position of HACCP Advisor due to her passion to provide safe food for the children of NYC schools. Tina is an exceptional food safety inspector who is highly knowledgeable about food safety regulations and best practices and is dedicated to ensuring that all school kitchens follow these regulations. Tina is thorough and detail-oriented in her inspections, making sure to check for everything from proper food storage to employee hygiene practices.
Tina is proactive in educating kitchen staff and managers about food safety, offering training and resources. She is very approachable and willing to answer questions and provide guidance, while at the same time being firm and fair when enforcing regulations.
Overall, she is an exceptional HACCP Advisor who is committed to ensuring that all school kitchens follow food safety regulations and provides safe food to the children in NYC schools.

Anthony Kancelaric is a true professional in his role as a Distribution Supervisor. His commitment to getting the job done is evident on a daily basis as he is a true team leader. Anthony adds additional routes daily to aide schools in need of vital supplies to ensure students of NYC receive a delicious and nutritious meal. Anthony is always willing go above and beyond in any task that is asked of him.