Clay Community Schools (CCS) will honor its food service workers by giving them a small token of appreciation during School Nutrition Employee Week, May 7-11, and they are asking community members to do the same.
According to a press release, every year the School Nutrition Association celebrates the workers by designating a week that gives parents, students, school staff and communities an opportunity to thank those who serve more than 60,000 lunches and 21,000 breakfasts to 4,330 CCS students every month.
"Preparing healthy school meals, promoting good nutrition habits and offering a friendly greeting are all in a day's work for the 51 school nutrition employees in the CCS district," the press release reads.
CCS Director of Personnel, Data and Food Services Carolyn Kumpf said the corporation plans to provide small gifts to its food service staff.
"They try to show the students they care," Kumpf told The Brazil Times. "If the kids eat breakfast, they are the first ones they see in the morning, and they try to show a warm, welcoming demeanor with a smile or a polite hello."
Kumpf added the jobs of the food service workers are much more difficult than some people might imagine.
"They really do work hard," Kumpf said. "A lot of people think all they do is cook, but they lift heavy pans, serve a lot of kids in a very small amount of time and complete many other tasks as well. They really have to work hard to get it all done."
According to the press release, this year school nutrition employees have taken on a new responsibility.
"In January, the federal government finalized new nutrition standards for school meals, requiring schools to serve more fruits and vegetables (including weekly servings of legumes, dark green and orange vegetables), with whole grains and limit the sodium and calories in each meal," the release said.
Kumpf said CCS uses a software program to assist in meal balancing and coordination.
The software is called Nutri-Kids, and it allows the school to input the menu data into a system where it is then analyzed for fat, fiber and protein content to make sure the meal choices are acceptable when compared to federal mandates.
If the meal is not balanced, the software program sends the meal planner an alert and prompts them to solve the conflict.
"We really appreciate all (the food service workers) do," Kumpf said. "We take a lot of flack for our meals, but they are planned, balanced and they all meet federal guidelines."