School Food Service at the Ground Level

Posted by: Ellen Schuster, BA, MS on Wednesday, February 20, 2019

School Food Service at the Ground Level

Article originally appears in the February 14, 2019 issue of the SNEB eCommunicator.

The recent government shutdown highlighted the challenges of school lunch, especially rural districts working within tight budgets. Did you know that the first Friday in May is School Lunch Hero Day when you can recognize school food service staff? The National Education Association has School Nutrition Employee Week (first week of May). Let’s celebrate early and learn about the real world of school food service.

Real world stories
**A TX school food service director has a blog to give the public a peek into the world of school food service. The blog, Tray’d Secrets: Behind the Serving Lines with the Head Lunch Lady is @ https://traydsecrets.wordpress.com/. You’ll see how school food service works and also get sample forms like the taste test form in her January 11, 2019 blog post.  https://www.oaoa.com/news/education/ecisd/article_7d74fd34-230f-11e9-9535-833b46314668.html

**Staff, students feed his love for the job
The Spokane, WA school food service director talks about the realities of feeding children, making changes and how school lunch has changed since he was a student.
http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2018/aug/26/front-center-staff-students-feed-his-love-for-job/

**One school cafeteria worker’s take on school lunch - you may not agree with all of the opinions in this article but pay attention to #4, 5, 6, 10, 12 and 15
https://www.precisionnutrition.com/lunch-lady-ryan

Insights into school lunch
**Tray Talk - school meal success stories
https://traytalk.org/

**School nutrition success stories (School Nutrition Association)
https://schoolnutrition.org/aboutschoolmeals/schoolnutritionsuccessstories/

**Chef Ann Foundation - school lunch success stories
http://www.chefannfoundation.org/news-media/the-lunch-line-blog/thanking-the-humble-hands-of-school-food-service

**6 things you need to know about school lunch - pay attention to #2 (challenges facing school food service directors), #3 (there’s not a lot of wiggle room to pay for school lunch) and #5 (innovations happening in school lunch.
https://foodcorps.org/6-things-you-need-to-know-about-school-food/

The ripple effect of school lunch
**Farm to school stimulates local economy - see the sources of local foods that go to school lunch and boost the local economy
https://farmtoschoolcensus.fns.usda.gov/farm-school-works-stimulate-local-economies

**School food: supporting healthy kids and local food systems - one CA school food service director talks about the challenges and ways she works to change the system
https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=27551

School lunch data
**School meals, USDA, FNS
https://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/faqs

**School meals trends and stats (School Nutrition Association) - includes reimbursement rates and unpaid school lunch debt
https://schoolnutrition.org/aboutschoolmeals/schoolmealtrendsstats/

Podcast
**5th grade special: school kitchen investigation - 2 middle schoolers interview DC school food service staff about the challenges and benefits of ‘from scratch’ kitchens (9 minutes in, about 20 minutes)
http://lunchagenda.fullserviceradio.org/c068cf8b

Infographics
**Make a school lunch date (USDA) - encourages parents adults to come to see school lunch and what to do when they visit
https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/images/School-lunch-date-2016.jpg

**MyPlate guide to school lunch (USDA) - how foods from each part f MyPlate contribute to school lunch. English/Spanish
https://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/myplate-guide-school-lunch