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Second-chance breakfast at Henry E. Lackey High School is quite popular. On any given school day, students line the hallways, eager to buy breakfast before they quickly head to their next class. If they choose to buy any meal at school, they will definitely encounter Beverley Jenkins. Jenkins is a longtime food and nutrition service worker at Lackey and serves meals to students at three times during the day: breakfast, second-chance breakfast and lunch. She loves her job and does not view it as work, but rather as a responsibility.
“These kids are my kids. If a child is hungry, they are not going to be able to focus in the classroom. If I see that a child is hungry, I am going to feed them. It makes me feel good and we all contribute to educating a child,” Jenkins said. She is well known in the school community as a hard worker who goes above and beyond to do whatever is necessary to feed children. Her hard work recently earned her recognition through the Maryland School Nutrition Association as its 2017 Employee of the Year.
Her commitment is clear to her colleagues, who thought she was an outstanding example of excellence in the food service industry. “She truly is an example of someone who is dedicated to this school,” said Crystal Sopher, supervisor of food and nutrition services for Charles County Public Schools. Jenkins is so dedicated to the Lackey community – from supporting students and staff through meals, but also with extracurricular activities and athletics. She said she was notified of her recognition for the award while she was attending a school football game.
“We were in the semifinals and I had to go to the game. Crystal called Gail from the awards banquet, who called me when I was at the game. I could barely hear her and was shocked. I am still in shock; I cannot comprehend it really. I just show up to work each day,” Jenkins said.
The Gail who called Jenkins with the award news is her longtime Lackey colleague, food and nutrition service manager Gail Slaughter. Jenkins has worked with Slaughter for her entire 20-year career at Lackey and refers to her as not only a colleague, but a close friend and mentor. “Gail is my team mate and she supports me 100 percent. I know she has my back and I always have hers,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said on an average school day, she serves students more than 100 breakfasts between two shifts and over 100 lunches. She takes pride in feeding students and her role in their school day. Students see her commitment to their well-being and the school community. “She is amazing. She is one of the nicest people here; she knows what you want even before you get to the front of the line,” Lackey senior Mac Scott said.
Slaughter said she could not think of a person more deserving of recognition for her work than Jenkins. “She is my right hand person. We have worked together for so long that we flow well together. She is so dedicated to her work, is professional and takes pride in what she does. That is sometimes hard to find these days,” Slaughter said.
Jenkins began her career in food and nutrition services at La Plata High School, where she worked for a few months before transferring to Lackey. She was an integral part of the launch of the second-chance breakfast at Lackey in 2011. Since then, the number of students eating breakfast at Lackey has tripled. Through the second-chance breakfast, students can stop at a kiosk after their first period class to buy a meal and eat during the start of second block.
Jenkins is proud to call Lackey her work home. She is a Charles County native and lives in the Lackey community. She also graduated from Lackey. “I love working close to home and I love my community,” she said.
Jenkins was nominated for the award by her food and nutrition services colleague Tracy Newbold. Newbold said not only is Jenkins dedicated to her job, she makes all students a priority. “She believes that the students are always and should be our first priority. She realizes a child can’t do well if they are not properly fed,” Newbold wrote in her nomination statement.
Jenkins received a crystal plaque award and was honored during the Maryland School Nutrition Association awards banquet held Nov. 17.