Celebrate School Lunch Hero Day with Grove City Area School District
Friday, May 7, 2021 is the 8th annual School Lunch Hero Day. It is a day to elevate the people behind the lunch line who prepare healthy food for America’s kids. Here at Mushrooms in Schools, we understand that the work of the school lunch hero is too often unseen and unrecognized. We celebrate school nutrition professionals for their daily efforts to offer school children delicious and nutritious school meals.
Mushrooms in Schools recognizes the school nutrition team at Grove City Area School District for their outstanding dedication to serving high-quality school meals, something we like to call #RealSchoolFood.
Farm to School Programming at Grove City Area School District
When the State of Pennsylvania received grant money to start a Harvest of the Month program for all of Pennsylvania schools, the endeavor was a new one. They enlisted partners from Project PA and Penn State University to develop turnkey programming and school lunch recipes. You can read and download all of the great materials at: https://www.paharvestofthemonth.org/
“Pennsylvania Harvest of the Month is a program developed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and Project PA (Penn State University) to promote a local agricultural product each month through schools, child and adult care centers/day care homes, and summer feeding sites. The program aims to provide participants with local, healthy products while supporting Pennsylvania farmers and producers.”https://www.paharvestofthemonth.org/
Jennifer Reiser, Director of Food Service at Grove City Area School District, was excited to partner with the new Harvest of the Month program as she passionately believes in supporting local agriculture. She has loved using the great resources and marketing materials developed for the program. The Pennsylvania Harvest of the Month materials feature one fruit and vegetable each month and schools may download:
- Social Media Posts
- Family newsletter template
Helping Kids Try New Foods
The children at Grove City School Area District have no problem trying new foods and menu items. When there is support school-wide and unified messaging between the cafeteria and classroom, teaching kids to try new foods becomes easier.
Jennifer says, when trying new foods, “The little kids (K-5) love the stickers they get for trying a new item. At the start of the year, it was more difficult but now they know if they try it, they get the coveted sticker!”
There is a perception that kids do not like mushrooms, and Jennifer says it is simply not true. “Kids eat mushrooms and they do enjoy trying new items.”
A Recipe from Grove City School District
Jennifer loves mushrooms and remembers a recipe from her past: Hungarian Mushroom Soup; full of contrasting flavors that marry together into a delicious bowl of warmth and taste! She served that soup to her K-5 school in a two-ounce souffle cup. Not only did they eat the soup, but wanted to know when it was going to be menued. Jennifer’s Hungarian Mushroom Soup Recipe is coming soon to our recipe collection.
Teamwork is Hero Work
Jennifer could not stop praising her incredible staff of thirteen. “After everything they have been through and worked through, to see them enthusiastically incorporating an additional item to serve and market to the students each month, has been amazing. Why? Because they all want their kids to eat better, enjoy more fruits and vegetables and learn about agriculture too. They not only worked harder than we ever could have imagined just over a year ago, but they continue to serve each child, in school or for curb-side pickup with a smile and with love.”
This is what a School Lunch Hero looks like: a team of dedicated professionals stepping up to provide meals for all children wherever they are who lead by example and find partners to support them. The state of Pennsylvania was that partner, and a great partner at that! Thank you to the school nutrition team at Grove City Area School District; we cannot wait to see what new recipes you come up with next!
Looking for Farm to School resources to amp up local sourcing in your school lunch program? Check out our Farm to School page for turnkey social media graphics, handouts, sticker templates, and more!