Schools celebrate cafeteria programs
By Matthew Stewart | (email@example.com)
Blount County’s three school districts recently got the opportunity to showcase the crucial role that school cafeterias play in student success.
Officials celebrated National School Lunch Week from Oct. 15-19. The week’s theme was “School Lunch — What’s Cooking?” and officials celebrated the positive changes that have been made in school lunch programs across the country.
Walland Elementary School’s cafeteria employees distributed stickers, bookmarks and snack crackers, said manager Lori Sperling. They also organized a coloring contest.
The school, which serves about 320 students, saw a slight increase in student participation, she said. The cafeteria serves about 220 student lunches daily.
Employees served this past week about 20 to 30 additional students every day, Sperling said. “The kids enjoy getting a treat. The new lunch guidelines make it harder for us to give things to them.”
Third-grader Ashley Tipton liked the coloring contest. She and her peers helped teacher Michelle Gaddis and teaching assistant Maggie Shallenberger make a piece of artwork with students eating lunch at tables, which the educators turned into three-dimensional objects.
“I had a lot of fun making it,” she said. “I’m also proud of how it looks.”
“I’ve liked National School Lunch Week, because they’ve given us a lot of good food,” said third-grader Isaac Grubbs. “My favorite one was the spaghetti. I loved the meatballs, because I don’t usually get meatballs on my spaghetti.”
‘Cornerstone of everything’
School officials were pleased with countywide efforts to promote school lunches.
“We’re very pleased with the programming at Walland Elementary School and our other schools,” said nutrition coordinator Karen Helton. “It’s a national celebration for school cafeterias, and we’re honored to promote what we do every day.
“We try to turn our cafeterias into a special event year round,” she said. “Teachers work with the students in their classroom, but cafeteria workers see almost every student. Whenever we conduct employee training, we always address the importance of their relationships with students. They can play a role in their lives, as well. Our cafeteria workers definitely have a part to play in helping Blount County Schools meet its mission statement.”
Gaddis appreciates the work of cafeteria staff. “So many kids don’t eat healthy, and they don’t eat meals regularly. If children don’t get a good breakfast and lunch, they can’t focus in the classroom and do their best work.”