The loud clamor of your friends talking and laughing, the satisfaction of a good meal during a long day, the rest and relaxation of the lunch period - for Petal students, none of this would be possible without Danny Dillistone.
Dillistone was recently awarded with the President's Award of Achievement by the School Nutrition Association. This award honors all state presidents for their commitment and dedication to the School Nutrition Association and the students that they serve.
"I am very proud to receive this award on behalf of the Mississippi School Nutrition Association and very thankful to the Petal School District for allowing me to serve as President of the Mississippi School Nutrition Association."
Dillistone served for five years as a Mississippi Department of Health Environmentalist, after which he spent 11 years as the Educational School Food Service Specialist for the Mississippi Department of Child Nutrition. For the past seven years, Dillistone has been the Child Nutrition Director for the Petal School District. He also currently serves as the President of the Mississippi School Nutrition Association.
As President, Dillistone must strive to accomplish the goals set by the School Nutrition Association on a national level and accomplish the same goals on the state level. These goals include Education and Professional Development, Advocacy and Public Image, Community, and Infrastructure.
These goals were accomplished in various ways, including having the School Nutrition Specialist Credentialing Exam held three times in the past year. Along with this, District Directors were encouraged to invite legislators to MSNA meetings in order to make their needs more visible.
In the Community sector, the MSNA has started a new Facebook page to reach out to Mississippi area. As for Infrastructure, multiple chapters were reorganized this year.
As for his greatest successes as President this year, Dillistone holds having a higher attendance at the MSNA Annual Conference and being able to reduce the time required by one day in that esteemed position.
Dillistone believes that a good nutrition program is essential to a successful education program, and many studies and statistics agree with him. He also believes that school lunches can influence what a child chooses to eat for the rest of their life.
"With 30 to 50 percent of a child's calories being consumed at school, I believe school lunch can make a strong impact on what a child learns to eat. I would hope that supporting nutrition as a vital component of the total learning environment, we are getting the message across to our children how eating can influence their health for a lifetime. Furthermore, there is strong evidence that promoting healthy eating in schools leads to better academic performance. I like to live by the old saying, 'It's hard to teach a hungry child,'" Dillistone offered when asked about the importance of his position.
In an effort to defer the cost, time, and effort required to create a school nutrition program, most of the state is on a statewide purchasing program through the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs.
The Mississippi Office of Child Nutrition provides all of the recipes used in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program meals online for parents to see through a program called Mississippi Recipes for Success.
"This great resource continues to grow as schools develop new recipes for our children. Take a look Mississippi, we can all be proud of this accomplishment," said Dillistone while speaking about MS Recipes for Success.
The MS Recipes for Success can be seen on the Mississippi Department of Education website at mrs.mdek12.org. These recipes are the standardized recipes used throughout the entire state of Mississippi.