Say thanks to school food service workersPreparing healthy school meals, promoting good nutrition habits and offering a friendly greeting are all in a day’s work for the 52 school nutrition employees in the Superior School District.
Preparing healthy school meals, promoting good nutrition habits and offering a friendly greeting are all in a day’s work for the 52 school nutrition employees in the Superior School District. The non-profit School Nutrition Association celebrates this professional commitment with School Nutrition Employee Week May 7-11. The week is an opportunity for parents, students, school staff and communities to thank those who provide healthy meals to 32 million of America’s students each school day.
In Superior, they serve approximately 2,400 breakfasts each day and more than 3,200 lunches.
School nutrition employees must balance many roles and follow numerous federal, state and local regulations to ensure safe and healthy meals are available in schools. They are trained sanitation and food safety experts and must manage financially self-sufficient programs despite limited funds to prepare and serve each meal. School nutrition professionals also provide nutrition education to students and use their creativity to make the cafeteria a fun and welcoming place.
This year, school nutrition employees take on a new responsibility. In January, the federal government finalized new nutrition standards for school meals, requiring schools to serve more fruits and vegetables (including weekly servings of legumes, dark green and orange vegetables), switch to whole grains and limit the sodium and calories in each meal.
Schools must meet these new requirements starting in the 2012-2013 school year, but school nutrition professionals have already been working toward these goals by mixing up the menu, offering a wider variety of fresh produce and getting students excited about trying new, healthier meals in the cafeteria.
The Superior School District has been introducing the students to fresh spinach in their salads, samples of fresh kale and star fruit. The school food service staff is reporting that the kids love it.
The importance and nutritional value of school meals are well documented. For many children, school lunch is the most important and nutrient-rich meal of their day. In fact, federal regulations ensure that every school lunch offers students their choice of milk, two fruits or vegetables, a grain and a protein. School meals must also meet strict limits for fat, saturated fat and portion size.