Thanking School Food Heroes Serving from the Front Line
As institutional engagement manager here at OMD, I have the good fortune of working hand in hand with many talented and committed food service professionals across different industries. Among the many amazing institutions and partners we serve, none are nearer or dearer to my heart than the incredibly talented K12 school food professionals who serve nearly 30 million students each day.
Part of my admiration for these folks stems from my former life as a high school teacher, and my own understanding of just how essential it is to the learning process to have students who are well-fed and energized. But my deepest sense of appreciation comes from my current work as a school food advocate, and understanding just how critical school meals are to ensuring that food-insecure children remain healthy, fed, and functioning through the unique stresses and anxieties of adolescence.
Now, as we find ourselves in the middle of a health and economic crisis, I feel a heightened sense of appreciation and a growing need to acknowledge the incredible work of school food providers everywhere.
It’s likely you’ve seen these school lunch heroes in your own communities. Standing behind pop-up tents and folding tables, dedicated food service workers don gloves and masks and distribute food from school lawns, school buses and community centers around the nation.
These efforts are part of a nationwide response from school districts to ensure all children receive a nutritious and free breakfast and lunch each day. While free meals are usually provided to low-income children, state and federal guidelines have relaxed in order to provide all children with food during this unprecedented crisis.
As the number of unemployed and underemployed Americans continues its drastic rise, it’s vital that these programs continue to ensure our children and families have access to the meals that keep them nourished and healthy.
As a school food advocate and educator currently sidelined by COVID-19, it feels deeply important to acknowledge and recognize the front-line food workers now stepping up to help in the current crisis.
Each day, school food professionals continue to leave the safety and security of their homes and families to serve a larger mission. It’s a mission they’ve always championed, yet rarely taken credit for: promoting the health and wellbeing of our children.
So for all those on the front lines of this crisis: thank you. To the school food professionals ensuring our children are healthy and well-fed: we see you and send you light, love and deep gratitude for your heroic and herculean efforts.
We’re living through unprecedented times in our food system’s history. And it’s a marathon, not a sprint in the race to create a more equitable food future. Meet some of the other leaders in this movement on our blog.