Elementary School Food Service Worker Known for Accommodating Food Allergies Honored by State


Angela Kelly, a food service worker at Lawton Chiles Elementary in Orlando, was honored with the 2024 Florida School Lunch Hero Award as selected by representatives from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, No Kid Hungry of Florida, and the Dairy Council of Florida.

Formerly a secretary, Ms Kelly became a food service assistant after her son, now 21, suffered anaphylactic shock for the first time as a 3-month-old infant.

Because of her background, Kelly handles food for students with food allergies.

She said:

I love my job. I love seeing the smiling faces on these kids every day, and to know that you can help them by filling their tummies or giving them food that’s similar to their friends so that they don’t feel that different because of their food allergies. Because a lot of kids with food allergies, they are different; they can’t eat a lot of the same snacks and treats. So if I can make it similar, then that makes me happy.

Ms Kelly was nominated by Minh Dang-Do, a parent of two daughters with severe food allergies. Ms Dang-Do praised Kelly for ensuring her daughters have access to safe foods similar to the meals and snacks the other students receive during lunch and after school.

Minh Dang-Do, her younger daughter Ella Do, and Angela Kelly
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Said Ms Dang-Do:

Initially, I was kind of hesitant, but over a period of time I was — I gained more confidence in [her] and it’s been over a few years now that I completely trust Miss Kelly. If I knew that there was this award in previous years… I would have nominated her a while ago, I wouldn’t have waited [until] this year.

Dang-Do’s daughters generally bring lunch from home, but Kelly sometimes orders allergen-safe options for them for variety. Kelly then sends information back about those foods her daughters enjoyed.

Despite her daughters having received scholarships to attend other schools, Dang-Do opted to have them remain at Lawton Chiles because of the care provided by Kelly and the staff.

“I’m just forever grateful,” she said. “It’s not just Miss Kelly, but the whole entire school.”

Said Kelly:

For a parent to trust you that much, I mean, that’s their most precious gift that someone could do is to trust you with their children, and the fact that it means so much to her just, like, it just melts my heart. I don’t need recognition for what I do; I do it because it’s my passion and I love it. But to be nominated, and win, because a parent thinks that much of me is just — it’s very humbling.

She added:

I just want to make sure that they all have the same experience, and love that it’s lunchtime, and enjoy the food and the people that are giving it to them.

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Kelly received $2,000 from No Kid Hungry Florida, a prize pack from the Dairy Council of Florida, and a trophy and a superhero cape from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, among other prizes.

We send our heartfelt congratulations to Ms Kelly and thank her for taking extra care in accommodating kids coping with food allergies and dietary restrictions. We wish every school had a Ms Kelly.

Does your child’s school go out of its way to accommodate children with food allergies? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom is CEO and "Blogger in Chief" of SnackSafely.com.

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