2017 Horizon STAR Award Winners

2017 Horizon STAR Award Winners
Editorial Team

At our 20th Annual Users Group Conference, the following customers were honored for setting the standard high and being an inspiration to other child nutrition departments around them. Congratulations to this year’s winners, and we look forward to celebrating more trailblazing customers at next year’s Horizon Users Group Conference!

Partnership Award – Gold

Gwinnett County Public Schools – Suwanee, GA

School Nutrition Program Director Ken Yant, Horizon VP of Marketing Amy Huff and Client Relations Manager, Jordan Mack

As a Horizon customer for over two decades and a partner since day one, the Gwinnett County School Nutrition Program (GCSNP) consistently provides valuable insight that impacts our product roadmaps and improves our customer marketing initiatives across the board.

Gwinnett is a large district, as many of us know, but what you may not know is how greatly each of the 139 schools differ from each other as far as income levels and the students who fill those cafeterias. With a strong attention to detail, organization, and determination, they successfully serve over 177,449 meals per day and cater to every palate.

Café Gwinnett features many Georgia grown foods through their Farm to School program, offering a variety of fresh foods, such as watermelon and vegetables, that are distributed directly by local farmers.

Catering to the taste palates at each of their schools, they’ve spiced up their offerings to include things like Asian Rice Bowls, diced jalapeño toppings, and Pico de Gallo.

This past year, the Southeast United Dairy Industry Association and the Atlanta Falcons awarded GCSNP with $10,000 via their Hometown Grant. They also received their 4th Golden Radish Award for their Farm to School Program and were named Food Management Magazine’s K-12 Innovator of the Year.


Partnership Award – Silver

Springfield Public Schools – Springfield, MO

IT and Financial Support, Joyce Lancaster, and General Manager, Amy Gibbons, with Horizon Client Relations Manager, Stephen Sraga

The Springfield Public Schools Nutrition Service department has worked side-by-side with our Horizon development team to assist in the pilot for our Solana Online Apps web-based solution. This strong partnership included weekly communication and testing to ensure the program follows both USDA guidelines and those of the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE).

Not only a partner to Horizon but also a champion for school nutrition, Springfield was awarded by No kids Hungry Missouri for having the Highest Breakfast in the Classroom Growth in the state.

As their meal participation continues to grow at a rate of 13% over last year, they continue to serve their Breakfast in the Classroom at 32 sites with an average of 13,295 breakfasts served daily. Springfield is also proud of their accomplishments with their ENCORE after-school program, in which they serve about 1300 suppers/snacks per day with a goal of 1700.

As we continue to work together and complete beta testing on Solana Online Apps, we hope to pave the path for approval by the Missouri DESE so we can implement this state-of-the-art solution with our other Missouri school districts.  Springfield Public Schools Nutrition Service department will be a major reason why we will be able to accomplish that goal.


Achievement Award

Meriden Public Schools – Meriden, CT

As a nationally-recognized nutrition program, Meriden Public Schools Food & Nutrition Services has a long line of achievements, including being recipients of $1.2 million in grant funding over the past five years.

Breakfast has been a major focus at Meriden where they’ve experienced participation growth of 325% since 2010! For their efforts, they received $135,000 from AASA and the Walmart Foundation, as well as $200,000 dedicated to school breakfast expansion.

As a Horizon customer since 2007 and a MyPaymentsPlus customer since 2008, Meriden serves approximately 4,500 breakfasts and 6,100 lunches per day. Over $396,000 in online payments were collected from parents just last school year alone.

Under Susan Maffe’s leadership, Meriden was 1 of 22 schools in the nation to have received the Healthier US Schools Challenge Gold Award of Distinction and was the first district in Connecticut to host a summer meal site at a Saturday Farmer’s Market. Meriden was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) to develop and implement a new school nutrition rating system pilot program. The State hopes the pilot’s success will create a model for schools across the state to use to encourage a healthier eating lifestyle for students.

The Meriden Public Schools Food & Nutrition Services Department is proud of their accomplishments and of their participation in National School Breakfast and Lunch, After School Snack, and At Risk Suppers programs.


Tech Trendsetter Award

St Louis Public School District – St. Louis, MO

The Food and Nutrition Services team at St. Louis Public Schools is stepping outside of the box with its breakfast routines. They knew they had students who weren’t eating breakfast and needed to, so they decided to offer breakfast cart services. They formed a committee and made plans to apply for a grant so they could obtain more laptops running OneSource to serve more students.

After being awarded the grant, they began expanding breakfast cart service to places like the gymnasium and other areas throughout their schools where students preferred to gather. Using breakfast carts and obtaining meal counts wirelessly showed immediate increases in participation. On the very first day, they saw an increase from 53% to 71%.

Understanding the needs of the students in their community is also something SLPS Food and Nutrition Services does well. Their reach extends well beyond the cafeteria by providing sack lunches for field trips, after-school snacks, and free breakfast and lunch during Summer Learning.

Their next step is to offer breakfast cart service in their elementary schools. Currently, they are serving about 16,000 breakfasts daily and many sites are already experiencing more than 25% growth. We look forward to hearing more exciting stats around their breakfast cart service program.

Newcomer of the Year

Greeley-Evans School District 6 – Greeley, CO

Director of Nutrition Services, Danielle Bock

Nutrition Services at Greeley Evans School District 6, also known as Weld County School District 6, started their journey with us this past May and they have already become a shining star with our implementation services department. In a few short months, they have supplied Horizon team members with their district expertise, enabling us to refine and improve some of our best practices.

Danielle Bock and her team have been valuable assets this year. On several occasions, they have assisted other customers with similar situations by providing tips about their own best practices.

One of the core focuses of their nutrition department is to “kick out highly processed foods” and offer fresh meals from scratch.

With these goals in mind, they have successfully opened a centralized production kitchen, which sources local ingredients when possible and offers both Farm to School and School Garden programs.

We look forward to watching this customer continue to evolve, and we are grateful for their assistance during school start up and beyond.


Tech Trendsetter Award

Hillsborough County Public Schools – Tampa, FL

As a result of its dedication and adoption of new features, the Student Nutrition Services department at Hillsborough County Public Schools is setting technology trends for improving school nutrition processes. Working hand-in-hand with our Horizon development team, they helped to improve the performance of our Free and Reduced module by making it more user-friendly and faster than ever.

They were also able to email 60,000+ direct certification letters, saving the district significant money on postage and mailing fees. As expert users of both OneSource and MyPaymentsPlus, they continue to create and improve their own processes as well as inspire us to enhance some of our own.

Beyond the software, Hillsborough continues to set additional standards in their commitment to their community. During Hurricane Irma, they opened their doors to provide local families with hot breakfast and lunch, regardless of whether they attended their district or not. Since Irma, they have continued to provide their students with free meals through October 20th.

During the summer, Student Nutrition Services employees are supporting their Movin’ Meals program, which includes five renovated school buses, by delivering meals to their student community throughout the week. Many of these students live in remote areas with limited transportation and funds. These students are able to escape the Florida heat and eat comfortably in the air-conditioned buses. Looking at how unique their buses are, one could say they also set the trends in that arena as well!