The group created the award to honor school food and nutrition directors from across the state who are pioneers in making healthier school meals that kids want to eat.
“We’re proud to give Health Happens Heroes awards to leaders who ‘walk the walk’ to improve health in our schools, neighborhoods and with prevention” said Robert K. Ross, M.D., president and CEO of The California Endowment. “Today we honor school district innovators who understand the important role that good nutrition plays in the fitness and academic success of California’s children.
"These pioneers are embracing and defending new federal standards for healthier school meals and offering kids great-tasting healthy food that they can’t wait to eat.”
Petill, food services director at San Diego Unified since 2004, gave credit for the accomplishments to his Food Services staff.
"Change is never easy, but our team over the last decade has made significant changes in not only what's on our menu, but in our outlook toward our customers, the students," he said. "Whether its salad bars, vegetarian entrees, breakfast in the classroom or serving fresh local produce through our Farm to School program, our team really believes that we can have wholesome, nutritious and great tasting food at schools."
"And most importantly, they are delivering that to our students every day."
In its information on the award, the California Endowment noted that Gary's work has been praised by Chef Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution web site.