Hats Off to School Nutrition Employees
School Nutrition Employee Week (SNEW), celebrated this year from May 7 – 12, is a time to recognize the hard-working women and men who prepare the nutritious meals for America’s school children throughout the year. The School Nutrition Association established this week as a way to encourage everyone involved with schools – teachers, administrators, parents and students – to let these employees know how much they are appreciated. I surveyed several school nutrition service directors to find out why they celebrate SNEW . According to Dora Rivas, MS, RD, LD, Executive Director of Food and Nutrition Services for the Dallas Independent School District,
“From the point of receiving food in our warehouse to serving the school meal, our staff play a critical role in preparing our children for learning. They take great care to assure that the food served is safe, attractive and delicious. What is most appreciated is their genuine caring and smiles that they give our children each and every day!”
And Beth Thorson, MS, RD, Nutrition Services Director for Leander, Texas ISD explains,
“It is important to recognize employees in a public way because frequently they are behind the scenes, making it easy to forget how they support the academic achievement and overall well-being of our students. Hungry students can’t learn, and must have their physical needs met adequately before they can tackle the mental challenges of academic rigor.”
Donna S. Martin, EdS, RD, LD, SNS, Director School Nutrition Program at Burke County, Georgia Board of Education agrees, adding,
“They are most definitely one of the hardest working groups of employees in the school. Without the School Nutrition employee, there would be no learning going on because so many students come to school without breakfast and, possibly, without supper the night before.”
Recognition of employees can range from a simple, heartfelt thank you to signs and banners in the cafeteria to an elaborate reception. In Donna Martin’s district they give all employees a great motivational t-shirt with the school system name on it. The Dallas ISD sends appreciation messages to all of the nutrition staff and, at some of their campuses, the principals recognize and thank them as well. Most meaningful, says Dora Rivas, are the thank you notes the children send to the employees that week. To see more of the ways schools are honoring school nutrition employees this week, check out School Meals That Rock.
Neva H. Cochran, M.S., R.D., L.D., is a registered and licensed dietitian, member of the CRA RD Panel, a nutrition consultant, and a writer based in Dallas, Texas. In addition to working with national organizations and corporations as a nutrition and health consultant and spokesperson, Cochran has been a contributing columnist and researcher for Woman’s World magazine for 18 years.
Members of the RD Panel are paid consultants to the Corn Refiners Association (CRA), but their statements and opinions are their own. RD Panel members provide general dietary information, but you should consult your own physician or dietitian for advice concerning your particular circumstance.