This year, National School Lunch Hero Day takes on special meaning honoring the frontline workers who made sure students across the country didn’t go hungry
The word “hero” has taken on new meaning since COVID-19. For the 6 in 7 hungry children who don’t get adequate meals when school isn’t in session,* these superheroes are the men and women who showed up rain or shine to serve meals in school, through bus deliveries and at community pick-up sites for the last 365+ days.
This Friday, May 7th, Chartwells K12 celebrates National School Lunch Hero Day to recognize its 16,000 essential chefs, dietitians and foodservice workers who served more than 300 million meals since the start of the pandemic. Not only did these heroes ensure children didn’t go hungry, they went above and beyond to make them happy – through theme days at pick-up sites, writing jokes on lunch bags, creating songs and dance routines, at-home cooking videos, and other activities to make mealtime fun.
“They’ve always been heroes to us, and now the rest of the world has seen why our associates are so important to the lives and wellbeing of students across the country,” said Belinda Oakley, CEO, Chartwells K12. “While we can be immensely proud of the numbers, what’s even more important is the story behind each meal. It’s a testament to how our school lunch heroes continue to use their superpowers to make a difference by serving up happy and healthy every day.”
To celebrate School Lunch Hero Day, Chartwells is sending every associate a special edition apron emblazoned with ‘This is my cape turned backwards.’
“As many of the classic heroes know, the superhero look just isn’t complete without a cape, so we’re making sure our teams are instantly recognizable as the heroes they are,” Oakley continued. “Now, everyone knows aprons are just capes turned backwards.”
Over the last year, school foodservice workers haven’t stopped making sure children are fed. Some of their remarkable efforts, include:
- Chapel Hill, N.C.: Converting the “Food for the Summer” initiative into the “Food For Students” program and working with the community to not only serve more than 1 million meals, but provide additional support to local children.
- East St. Louis, Ill.: Providing daily meal service, including weekends and holidays, and grab-and-go boxes to the student body – 100% of which receive free or reduced lunch.
- New Orleans, La.: Partnering with a local restaurant delivery service to safely drop off meals to students’ homes when they weren’t in school.
- Norwalk, Conn.: Implementing grab-and-go and satellite sites to expand meal pick-up locations in schools, as well as in the community.
- Spartanburg, S.C.: Transforming cafeterias into classrooms, packing and placing meal pick-up carts in hallways, and providing pre-packaged foods to limit contact.
School Lunch Hero Day is a national program dedicated to providing well-deserved recognition to school foodservice professionals for their role in keeping children well-fed, happy and healthy. It has been celebrated on the first Friday of May since 2013.