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Local school districts dish up good reasons to celebrate School Lunch Hero Day

Friendly cafeteria workers serve food to high school students. The first Friday in May in National School Lunch Hero Day.  (SDI Productions)

On the first Friday of May, schools around the country celebrate School Lunch Hero Day. This national holiday is when students and other school staff can say an extra special “thank you” to their nutrition staff members.

According to School Lunch Hero Day’s website, nutrition staff members have to adhere to strict nutrition standards and student allergies for every meal. This day is the opportunity to recognize the difference these hard-working professionals make in the lives of each student.

Robbie Truitt, the Nutrition Services Supervisor for Spokane Public Schools says that their nutrition staff “ensures that every child gets fed,” because “no kid can learn on an empty stomach, and so many kids depend on them.”

In the mornings, “they are sometimes the first adults that students see, so the kitchen staff tries to be welcoming with friendly smiling faces to start the day off on a positive note,” says Truitt.

According to Truitt, Spokane Public School District’s combined kitchen staff “serves 5.1 million meals per school year and 29,000 meals per day.”

Last year, SPS students made “thank you” cards, colored sheets with the lunch staff and designed aprons and posters.

“They love what they do, and they love the kids,” Truitt said.

Kim Elkins, the nutrition director for the Mead School District, said their staff come in to work every day “knowing that mealtime is a break from learning. They greet the students with a smile and share a kind word with them while encouraging them to try new items.”

“Our nutrition staff are always enthusiastic when they have opportunities to highlight the local produce we bring in,” Elkins said. This week, “they are making yogurt parfaits with Washington raspberries, blueberries and peaches as a lunch option.”

The nutrition staff at Mead schools prepare 1,700 breakfasts and 4,900 lunches per day.

“This includes preparing safe meals for students with allergies or other needs. Last year they made and served 248,602 breakfast and 782,753 lunches and will exceed that this school year,” Elkins said.

In February, the nutrition staff at Mead School District was able to make wild Washington coho salmon for the students’ lunches.

“They cooked it to perfection, and the kids were so excited to try it,” Elkins said. “Our staff are committed to providing healthy meals for our students and we appreciate their dedication and hard work every day.”