Lunch Ladies and Gents: Modern Day Super Heroes
Do you ever wish there were super heroes living among us? Someone who can save the day or has amazing powers to help others?
I believe school lunch ladies and gents are modern day super heroes, and I am not the only one. In fact, there is a whole day dedicated to School Lunch Heroes and it’s celebrated the first Friday in May every year.
How can an apron turn into a cape and ward off evil villains? Lunch ladies use the power of food to nourish students so they are fueled up and ready learn. Research has shown that school breakfast specifically improves student behavior and learning environments. Serving up lunch keeps students fueled up for the full day.
The Secret Superpowers of Today’s School Lunch Heroes:
School Lunch Heroes hold a special guard post in the school that can often go unnoticed. In many instances, they are the only people who see every student, every day at school. This provides a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on each child every day. I have been in many different school cafeterias and it’s common for many cashiers to know the students by name.
School Lunch Heroes have the power of caring. So many food service employees are in the profession because they care about kids. They have enthusiasm for nutrition and serving the students healthy meals. I have heard countless stories shared by adults, remembering the kind lunch lady at their school. I have seen countless elementary school students receive a big smile and hug from their lunch lady. Lunch ladies (and gents) care for kids.
School Lunch Heroes embrace change. So much has changed over the last 10 years in school food service with the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act and consumer trends. Many school lunch heroes are leading the charge to change their school’s environment for health.
Change can be scary, but there are school lunch staff who have gone after it with gusto. They have tested different recipes and tried new foods until their students are satisfied with what’s offered. They have listened to complaints and made adjustments so it fits into their tight budget and meets the new nutrition standards. They can do all this and still provide service with a smile.
School Lunch Heroes in Action:
Bukelwa Hornsby is the supervisor at the East Wing Kitchen of East Kentwood High School. She makes about 150 smoothies daily for breakfast. It is no small feat to have food ready for students. East Kentwood has a diverse student population that only adds to the challenge. Smoothies have been a huge success with students because they are healthy and easy for grab-and-go service. Hornsby has three flavors ready to go each day.
Kelly Busch is the head cook at Mott High School, part of Warren Consolidated Schools. “Kelly is a caring dynamic individual who never shies from a challenge,” said Carl Merkle, food service director at Warren. “Kelly took on the MI Smoothie Challenge and as a result, breakfast participation increased 7% and breakfast sales in general increased 10%.” Merkle continued, “Kelly is never satisfied with the ‘status quo’ but rather continues to push the envelope. Her fun loving positive attitude is infectious, and her staff responds enthusiastically with all of her ideas. Kelly has outstanding rapport with the students and the Mott administrative staff. Kelly is a true SUPERSTAR!”
Is there an unsung hero in your neighborhood school kitchen? Take the time to say “thank you,” and let them know you notice the hard work they do each day for their students.