BETHEL — Bethel School Cafeteria Manager Melody Howell was recently granted a North Carolina Child Hunger Award by No Kid Hungry NC — a statewide nonprofit that works to combat childhood hunger.
The NC Child Hunger Hero award is presented to a variety of workers from across the state who operate in various capacities to serve quality meals to children in their areas — from school nutrition staff to community volunteers.
Howell, who has worked in Watauga County Schools since 2002, was nominated by Principal Brian Bettis.
“I nominated Mrs. Howell for this recognition because of how well respected she is in our school and community,” Bettis said. “I frequently talk with people that mention how much she does for our students and families and how much she loves our students. Mrs. Howell has worked to create an environment in our cafeteria in which all students feel a part of our school family. They know they are loved, and they know that their stomachs and hearts will be well fed.”
Bettis said that Howell had worked to initiate a number of programs at Bethel School including second chance breakfast — an extra meal service for older students who are more likely to eat later in the morning. Howell also sponsors special recognition weeks throughout the year, including Child Nutrition Week and National School Breakfast Week. She has also worked with community partners to support a grant that provided universal free breakfast for all students at Bethel School on a trial basis.
Howell’s work at Bethel doesn't stop with students, as Bettis said the school’s staff also benefits from her dedication.
“Mrs. Howell works hard to support our staff too,” Bettis said. “She makes sure that everyone has a chance to eat lunch. If a staff member hasn’t visited the cafeteria, she will call to see if they need to eat and will even bring their lunch to them in their classrooms. Her demeanor and rapport with staff and students is second to none. I can't decide who is loved more, Mrs. Howell by our students or our students by Mrs. Howell.”
NC Child Hunger Hero Award winners will be recognized at the ninth annual NC Child Hunger Leaders Conference Feb. 19 in Chapel Hill. For more information, visit nokidhungrync.org.