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News Item: Homepage

First Annual Lunch Lady Hero Day Celebrates VUSD’s Nutrition Heroes

First Annual Lunch Lady Hero Day

Celebrates VUSD’s Nutrition Heroes


May has been an exciting month at WaveCrest Café, and it kicked off with our first (annual?) Lunch Lady Hero Day! Students, teachers, and in some cases parents, were asked to participate in an unusual project, aimed at taking time to appreciate some unsung “heroes” in our schools.


The day was initially inspired by children’s author, Jarrett J Krosoczka, and his series of “Lunch Lady Hero” graphic novels. In case you think books about super cool Lunch Ladies aren’t so hot, these books have won Children’s Choice Book Awards, sold over 350,000 copies, and been optioned by Universal Pictures for a live action film starring Amy Poehler as the Lunch Lady.


In January, WaveCrest Cafe hosted Krosoczka to speak at during a professional development day for Vista Unified School District. Krosoczka shared his own experience with the cafeteria people who made positive impressions on him as a child and how that formed the genesis for his successful series with Random House Children’s Books.


Krosoczka was inspired to writer the series after a chance encounter when visiting his old elementary school, where he learned about the number of fellow students’ lives that had been impacted by their childhood lunch lady. “They are the most positive, cheery people I have ever met,” said Krosoczka. “And my objective was simple: get kids to thank their lunch staff via creative projects.


“Everyone benefits when gratitude is expressed. I’ve never met a ‘lunch lady’ who didn’t love her or his job, but it can be a very thankless job. These folks keep our schools running by keeping our students fed. And in so many cases, these are meals that our students absolutely depend on.” You can see and hear more of this is his TEDTALK.


VUSD CNS Director Brock Smith was determined to bring the stories and this attitude of appreciation for his team into Vista’s schools. “I bought 16 sets of the books, two sets for each elementary school, and they are constantly checked out!” enthused Smith.


Smith and his team declared May 1st as Lunch Lady Hero Day across the Vista Unified School District, and several schools celebrated in a big way, decorating their cafeterias, writing essays to the cafeteria staff, and even serenading their lunch staff. All of these projects were in appreciation for the people who prepare and serve over 19,000 meals a day across the district.


“We really wanted to celebrate Lunch Lady Hero Day in a big way this year, so we decided on a contest,” said Smith. “The school that showed their staff the most appreciation would get a catered barbeque compliments of my staff and me. The schools went nuts! It was incredible! Some of them baked cakes for their lunch staff, wrote songs, painted pictures. Schools had a lot of fun with this!”


            Principal Laura Smith, from Casita Center Elementary School raved, “Celebrating Lunch Lady Hero Day at Casita Center was an event spearheaded by Jennifer Meyer, our PTA Health and Wellness chairperson. Students and staff were encouraged to wear yellow, superhero outfits or kitchen gear such as an apron and oven mitts to cheer on our lunch ladies. Students wrote acknowledgement messages to decorate the cafeteria along with balloons. The multipurpose room was festive and school spirit was strong.  Casita's television news crew hosted a special broadcast thanking the lunch ladies for their dedication to keeping everyone well fed!”   "It meant so much to have a day dedicated to the cafeteria workers," said Rita Manzo, Child Nutrition Lead.

There was so much competition it was hard to choose a winning school, and the contest resulted in a tie. The winning schools were Beaumont Elementary School and Casita Center Elementary School. Both schools put in extraordinary creative effort. Photo galleries of the participating schools can be found here.


Said Smith, “I think one of the reasons kids connected with the books is because these people make a connection with every child every day. Our team gets to know the students, they know their names, they see how they’re doing. And when you think about meaningful aspects of gatherings, the biggest thing about any event is food: think about Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, it’s all about the food - who’s making it, who’s serving it, and who you’re sharing it with.


“With the growing popularity of the Lunch Lady books, and the enthusiasm generated by the contest, it’s a good bet that our nutritional professionals (AKA the lunch ladies) who interact with our kids everyday are a new breed of heroes that we can all be proud to look to as role models, super powers or not.”


Posted by: Dave Palmer, District Associate, Vista Unified School District Published:6/3/15
Audience: Homepage and Homepage