It is with great pleasure that I recommend Donna Ebelhar for the DCPS Foundation's Health Focus Award. Donna is the cafeteria manager at Burns Elementary. She has been working at Burns for the past 5 years and always brings a positive and cheerful attitude with her to work. This attitude is truly contagious; it spreads to all the cafeteria ladies and staff and students at Burns.

Donna is just one of those people who goes above and beyond her job responsibilities ensuring all students are not only eating healthy, but their medical needs are being met as well. Just one of the examples of this is her attention to food allergies. She has developed a relationship with parents and has stayed in constant communication with them, throughout the school years, to ensure the safety of their children in their food allergies. To gain greater understanding of food allergies, Donna contacted local allergy doctors for more information on allergies; she passed this information on to parents to assure the cafeteria's number one priority is students' health. To this day, she continues to email her menu, including ingredients, to parents of children with food allergies. She is in constant communication with them to be aware of school menus and their child's health.

Not only is Donna our cafeteria manager, she is well known and popular with our staff and students. She is always willing to volunteer to participate in school wide assemblies, dancing, singing, and cheering, whatever it takes to motivate students. She inspires our student body by attending and promoting healthy lifestyles, to our students, at our Bobcat Bashes (weekly school wide assemblies). She develops fun activities that students can participate in, to promote nutrition and good health. A few include World Milk Day, poster contests, and Cafe tours. Donna also contributes to the academics and instruction at Burns. She visits classrooms, she allows students to job shadow in the cafeteria, and she takes time to develop positive and healthy relationships with all students, especially those who need it the most.

Donna Ebelhar would be a great selection for the Health Focus Award. She encompasses all characteristics of a leader in health, in schools. Donna is not just the cafeteria manager at Burns; she is a role model and leader in health and safety of students.

How Donna Ebelhar would spend a $1000 Foundation Grant:

My job involves feeding children and with that being said our biggest concern now and in the future is the nutrition for these children. I know that many of our children depend on the meals that they eat at school. It may be the only meal or at least good meal that they receive during the day. I would like to use the money to set up a program that could provide fresh vegetables and fruits for the children to take home for the weekends. Whether it be oranges, a fresh pineapple, or even a nice tomato or fresh green beans, maybe a nice squash. Recipes on how to prepare these products could be sent along with these items so that the parents will know what to do with them. We see kids everyday that do not have a clue about what some of our vegetables and fruits are. We do our best to get them to at least try them, some will but most won't because they have never had the opportunity or they were never introduced at their own dinner tables at home. This program will be most effective in the spring when we have fresh products available. A lot of the fruits can be purchased thru out the year if not available thru our local providers. Along with this I would like to establish a program here at school during the year in the classrooms. Working with the teachers of each class, a time would be set aside to visit the classroom, take samples of fruits and vegetables as well as props to teach the children what a squash is or maybe what a kiwi is. They would be able to try them and maybe like them enough to eat them when served with their meals here at school. Maybe even ask their parents to give them a try at home. This grant would help in supplying the tools needed to carry this out.