When Cyndi Talbott began work 17 years ago as cafeteria manager at a public school for the disabled, there were three puree combinations on the menu for students who couldn’t chew or swallow.

Now there are 50.

Talbott could feed Royal Palm School’s 357 medically needy students the same old recipe every day and they probably wouldn’t protest.

But because of her creativity and willingness to experiment, she has won a School Meal Hero award from ConAgra Foods, which operates the website, RethinkSchoolMeals.com.

The website invites school communities to show gratitude to their nutrition professionals by nominating them as School Meal Heroes. The Palm Beach County School District nominated Talbott.

Talbott said she feeds the school’s children and young adults — with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, seizure disorders, profound mental handicaps and autism — as she would her own. Most can’t speak. Aides feed many by spoon, while others get nutrition through feeding tubes.

Tears well in her eyes as she describes their role in her life. Read more…