Terri Williams, the food service manager for the La Crescent-Hokah School District, likes to fly under the radar.
“She’s a silent warrior who doesn’t care to be in the limelight,” said Lyn Halvorson, the school nutrition supervisor for La Crosse School District, which provides management services to La Crescent-Hokah’s food program.
But Williams had no choice but to accept the acclaim when she recently was recognized as a “School Lunch Hero” at La Crescent-Hokah High School.
“I was very, very surprised,” Williams said.
She was given the award as part of School Nutrition Employee Week before family members, school officials and students at a special ceremony.
Halvorson said Williams deserved the accolade for the quiet way she goes about her work and for how much she cares about the students she serves every day.
Williams has been with the La Crescent-Hokah district for 21 years. She manages a small team at the middle and high school and another at the elementary school.
Every morning, she gets to work at 6:15 a.m. to work on the breakfast service, before switching gears to the lunch service. On top of that, she has to order food, manage budgets, put money into the students lunch accounts and perform other management duties.
Her team of five at the middle and high school serve 150-175 breakfasts five days a week and about 525 meals at lunchtime.
Much has changed about the school food program since Williams joined the district more than two decades ago. For example, there’s a salad bar, serving fresh greens to students, and more of a focus on calories and sodium.
“It’s a lot more challenging now,” Williams said.
The payoff is the relationship Williams builds with the students and the dedicated team she works with day in, day out.
“It’s very rewarding work,” Williams said last week. “And honestly, it’s a lot of fun.”