Cindy Hobbs of Providence Crossing was awarded the Silver Leadership Award by the National Foodservice Achievement Management Excellence Award program.
Hobbs is the executive director of Child Nutrition Services for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and was flown to Seattle to receive her award during a ceremony held Jan. 16 at the Experience Music Project Science Fiction Museum.
The award is the most prestigious acknowledgment of success within the school nutrition industry and recognizes school nutrition professionals who tackle problems within their school districts and communities.
"It was so exciting to be a part of it all," said Hobbs. "I felt extremely honored."
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Hobbs, 58, who has been with Child Nutrition Services for more than 34 years, was nominated for the award by her staff. She said although the award has her name on it, she couldn't have accomplished so much without her staff.
"This award is for all of us," she said. "We've all made it our mission to offer the best nutrition possible to the students of CMS."
Hobbs said she believes she won the award because of the strides Child Nutrition Services has made in the meals served in CMS cafeterias. Hobbs said Child Nutrition Services has been serving school meals that meet the 2010 Child Nutrition Bill's standards long before the bill was passed.
"Even before the legislation came out, we were meeting many of their high standards," said Hobbs. "We made sure leafy green and orange vegetables were in the meal plans, lowered fat and sugar levels and served whole grain buns."
In 2002, Child Nutrition Services also began removing deep fryers from school cafeterias. The agency successfully completed the removal of all fryers in 2010 and are on their way to meeting the rest of the child nutrition bill's standards.
"We are adding more fiber and vitamin rich foods into the meals," said Hobbs. "We are also going to give more fruit and vegetable options."
According to Hobbs, Child Nutrition Services is most noted for growing the agency's budget by $20 million over the past five years without taking money from the CMS School Board. The agency is a contracted department of CMS and is self-supported, receiving money from the federal government. The agency provides meals for all CMS cafeterias as well as any school-related catered events.
"We work with CMS but have no affect on their budget," said Hobbs. "In fact, we were able to give CMS $3 million last year to cover electricity and garbage collection costs that the cafeteria probably contributed to."
Hobbs also said it was her daughter, Kallie, 22, who inspired her to provide better nutrition for CMS students.
"I wanted the best for my child and therefore wanted the best for everyone's children too," said Hobbs