Josey Crew grew up working in the family garden which initiated an interest in nutrition.

“I have always had a passion for foods and learning all I could about them — nutrition, cooking, even the science behind it all,” Crew said. “Growing up, we had several gardens and I would help in preparing items for canning and preserving.”

Working in the garden was something, Crew, 37, of Eliza­beth­town, loved and that interest and passion about food is taken into her current work as Hardin County Schools child nutrition director.

“Just the thought of growing your own foods and sharing them with your family, that was love,” she said.

She likes that her department can share that love to the students each day, knowing some are not exposed to nutritious meals at home.

“It is comforting to know that our schools provide that and fill that need for the children in our community,” she said.

She began working at HCS in 2015. Before that, she worked at the Lincoln Trail District Health De­partment as a clinical dietitian and then became WIC coordinator.

At HCS, she said she knows she can make a difference in a child’s life helping provide a basic need to be successful.

However, her work with children doesn’t stop with just those attending HCS schools. Crew also works with Ashley Purcell at the Grace Heartland Church children’s ministry.

“Josey is one of those leaders on my team who is just always happy, always calm and always welcoming,” Purcell said. “She is one of those grownups who just shows up, fully and completely, for her kids, her friends and her church.”

She called Crew a faithful leader and friend that always is in your corner.

After five years on the job, 2020 had its own particular set of challenges for Crew because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Challenge is absolutely the word but we have worked past that challenge to say that the students of our community have not been without meals these past few months,” Crew said. “Our staff has worked tirelessly, but thankfully, to provide meals every day since schools shutdown in March.”

She said while it seemed like the rest of the world shut down, her team did not. Since students were not coming to the schools, she said the challenge was finding a way to get food to them.

They did that most of that time by providing satellite feeding locations to provide meals for those who couldn’t come to the school sites.

“We will always find a way to work around these challenges when it comes down to feeding kids, there is nothing more important than giving them that fuel so they can thrive and learn properly,” she said.

Tonya Johnson, account clerk with the child nutrition program, called Crew a “great leader.”

“As a boss, she always puts others before herself and feeding kids is always her top priority,” Johnson said. “She’s very passionate about her job and everything she does.”

This year, Crew won the Ken­tucky School Nutrition Associa­tion Director of the Year.

“I feel very humbled to be honored so early in my career,” Crew said. “I will say that it took me by surprise but this is my passion and I’m glad that others can see that.”

The KSNA selected her because of increased participation in the summer feeding program, improvements to school nutrition programs in the district and leadership training with managers and inviting presenters.

Crew also serves on the board for the Ken­tucky School Nutrition Asso­ciation as a regional director and administrative chair.

“I love to be involved with anything pertaining to nutrition and how it affects our schools and students,” she said.

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1740 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.