Despite the Pandemic: Growth, Love and Wellness

Susan Stone is an energetic and vibrant person. She loves to ensure that everyone around her is happy and well, so it comes to no surprise that she is the District Wellness Coordinator. Susan works in the Atlanta Public Schools Nutrition Department managing the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program grant in 33 elementary schools and works to implement student wellness across the District. In a pre-pandemic environment she conducts wellness trainings and works with APS faculty to implement student wellness programming. During the pandemic, she works as the coordinator of meal delivery during virtual learning.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown APS’ in person learning efforts, the District has adapted to an ever-improving meal delivery and pick up service for APS students. ” We work every day to provide meals that are nutritious. The pandemic narrowed our delivery choices, so we’ve tried new items that we could package safely. Even though our team would never compromise our meal pattern, we use creativity to provide healthy choices that students will love,” says Susan.

Mrs. Stone is a Registered Dietitian, so she understands balance and how making wise choices can positively impact the body. She’s also very aware that a strong teamwork leads to big results. During the first quarter of SY21, approximately 1 million meals were produced by APS food service vendor Southwest Foodservice Excellence (SFE). The meals were distributed by the APS Transportation Department and APS community partners. The meal production rate is an astonishing number for a District who moved quickly to support the needs of its school communities. The Nutrition Department has also received outstanding staff support from the APS Safety and Security and the Facilities Departments. Susan shares, “Everything is a team approach. As a team we discuss our plans and ensure we are always working together. During the pandemic we’ve moved a little quicker and have had to be more creative, but we’ve performed well. Teamwork is a priority.”

In the midst of her team’s huge results, Susan also experienced another accomplishment, an engagement and wedding of a lifetime! “This has been a tremendous period of growth for me. Both professionally and personally. I got engaged in May 2020 and even though times were uncertain, we decided to take the plunge and get married during a global pandemic. We got married at the beach in August 2020, gathering only our close family. I’ve experienced a lot of excitement this year. I’m balancing being a good bride and committed nutrition professional each day. What I have learned is that I can do anything. I can process change,” says Susan.

Although so much as happened for Susan personally, she still makes wellness a priority as the pandemic is still a constant reality. “I’ll go for a walk or a jog to release stress. I set time aside for myself to help increase my own wellness. I believe this too shall pass,” expresses Susan.

Despite the pandemic, Susan’s life has transformed. She is thriving and taking time to encourage others along the way.

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