Lunchtime May Look Different, But School Meals Are A Student’s Best Friend

Lansing Central School District lunch with rotini and homemade marinara sauce.

School lunch and the way it’s served during National School Lunch Week may look little different in 2020, but schools are still working hard to introduce new menus items and get kids excited about eating health meals at school. Students in Lansing Central School District (NY) know first-hand how school nutrition professionals have risen to overcome challenges to adapt meal service to various in-person and remote learning methods during the pandemic.

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Curbside Lunch Pick-up Doesn’t Stop National School Lunch Week Celebrations

National School Lunch Week (NSLW) looks pretty different this year for Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools (NC) as K-5 students won’t be starting in-school classes until October 19. The district has been running a curbside meal pick-up operation to coincide with distance learning, but they haven’t given up serving nutritious and delicious meals for their students! ECPPS is offering prepared meals that are shelf stable or heat-and-eat selections for middle and high schoolers.

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New School Year Means New Look in TN Cafeterias

A month into this very different school year, Knox County School’s Food and Nutrition Services Department (TN) is running like a well-oiled machine. Executive Director Brett Foster said that all departments were included in the district’s re-opening plan, which contributed to the successful modifications of the school meal experience. Reminders to stay six feet apart and wear a mask can be seen all over the district, especially in the cafeterias. Staff welcomed students back with fun bulletin boards designed to make those important messages appealing to students.

The district has in-person and distance learners, something the school nutrition department has adjusted to. Positive messages are still written on containers to inspire students through the day, encouraging them to succeed and reminding them they are appreciated by their nutrition staff. They have used clamshell packaging for safer, easier transport and staff has been trained virtually on how to package each food component separately to prevent cross contamination and encourage fewer hands touching the food.

“Our department was able to share information regarding temperature checks and screening of employees, mask use, glove use and the use of clamshell containers/wrapped plastic flatware,” Foster said.

All meal components packaged separately, using clam shells for salads and individually wrapped fruits and vegetables.

By requiring meal registration for distance learners, staff have a better idea of participation with exact number of meals per site, something they learned was important in the spring when they had open meal pick-up. This fall, while menu options have been simplified, new menu items will still be introduced, said Foster. She wants students who are participating in school meals to enjoy what they are eating and says less choice does not mean less food. Offering fewer choices than normal helps to speed up students through the serving line, which helps shorten the time students might be exposed to others. Masks are required for students going through the serving line and assigned seating creates space between students. Students are encouraged to wash hands prior to eating meals and provided hand sanitizer.

While this school year looks different than others, Foster said she hopes students and families realize they are still providing the same healthy and delicious school meals they have become accustomed to. The district will continue to offer the best school meals possible to both distance and in-person students.

Blog Post Featured Image: Food service staff prepare grab and go flatware sets for students, minimizing the need to touch napkins and cutlery.

2020 Regional Employees of the Year Celebrated As Frontline Heroes

With each smile or kind word, cafeteria employees make a difference in children’s school days. This spring, those smiles are hidden under masks, but they are still there. The national, non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) received hundreds of nominations of stellar school nutrition professionals and awarded six Regional Employees of the Year. The award was created to recognize outstanding school nutrition employees who positively influence the quality of school meals through exemplary customer service. Meet the 2020 winners: Read more…

Managers of the Year Recognized For Dedication to Students

Adjusting school foodservice to emergency feeding operations following COVID-19 school closures, managers of school cafeterias are using their multitasking skills to ensure students have access to healthy meals.  In recognition of their outstanding hard work and dedication, the national, non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) has awarded the 2020 Regional Managers of the Year, considered the highest honor a school nutrition manager can earn. The award recognizes cafeteria managers who have demonstrated dedication and ingenuity to improve his or her school meal program. Read more…

Nutrition Directors Recognized for Leading Teams Through Thick & Thin

The national non-profit, School Nutrition Association (SNA), has awarded the 2020 Regional Directors of the Year, celebrating individuals for excellence in leadership and commitment to school meal programs that thrive under their direction each day. While the nomination process for these awards began before widespread COVID-19 school closures, the expansive efforts of school nutrition directors to manage current emergency feeding programs also deserve the accolades and honor these awards represent. Read more…

National Award Recipients Excel to Meet Evolving School Foodservice Needs

To coincide with School Lunch Hero Day, the non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) on Friday announced its annual Director, Manager and Employee of the Year winners. These awards recognize the dedication and outstanding commitment of school nutrition professionals from around the country that go above and beyond in service to their students and school meal programs. While schools have closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these foodservice heroes have continued their mission to feed America’s children in difficult situations – one curbside pickup, bus drop-off or home delivery at a time. Read more…

More Heroic Than Ever Amid School Closures

It may look a little different this year, with school closures and empty cafeterias, but the celebration of School Lunch Hero Day (SLHD) on May 1, 2020, has never been more important. Among the frontline heroes in the COVID-19 pandemic, school nutrition professionals have continued to step up to the crucial task of feeding America’s children.

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The school nutrition staff at Northside Independent School District (TX) are serving 27,000 meals a day during school closures because of COVID-19. They’re sure not letting social distancing and protective gear dampen their spirit!

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Schools Shoot for the Stars to Celebrate Breakfast

School districts around the country celebrated National School Breakfast Week (March 2-6) last week. This year’s galactic theme, “School Breakfast: Out Of This World,” supplied schools with plenty of creative ideas to highlight the importance of school breakfast and help make students mornings a little brighter!

This year, school nutrition and food service departments created cafeteria decorations and wore out-of-this-world themed outfits!

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