Three Cheers for School Lunch Heroes

School Lunch Hero Day graphic, She Can Do It character
Justice is served
May 04, 2023
ARLINGTON, VA – Between preparing delicious food, adhering to strict nutrition standards, navigating student food allergies, and offering service with a smile, school foodservice nutrition professionals have a lot on their plate!  Tomorrow, School Lunch Hero Day, schools across the country are recognizing the difference these valuable employees make for every child who comes through their cafeteria.

School Lunch Hero Day has been celebrated since 2013, and was created by The School Nutrition Association (SNA) and Jarrett Krosoczka, author of the “Lunch Lady” graphic novel series, to thank those who provide healthy meals to nearly 30 million of America’s students each school day.

“School nutrition employees must balance many roles and follow numerous federal, state, and local regulations to ensure safe and healthy meals are available in schools,” said Cameron Jacobs, USA Rice senior director of domestic promotion.  “School Lunch Hero Day is a shout out to these important folks for their dedication to fueling students for success.”

USA Rice provides support and resources to school foodservice programs with a dedicated webpage for rice in schools that touts the health and nutrition benefits of U.S. rice and includes specific information on recipe production as well as a four-part instructional video series that positions U.S.-grown rice as a practical way to offset some of the challenges being faced in school meal programs across the country.

“For many children, school lunch is the most important and nutrient-rich meal of their day,” said Jacobs.  “Our research shows school-age children respond to the familiarity of rice, making them receptive to trying new foods, allowing School Lunch Heroes to make the most of our favorite grain.”

Chef Rebecca Polson CC, SNS, the newest member of the USA Rice K-12 Chef Advisory Board, echoes that sentiment.  “Rice is a versatile ingredient used all over the world in an array of cuisines.  School lunch programs can use rice to help introduce culturally relevant recipes, while allowing for a sense of familiarity.   I am passionate about serving healthy, delicious foods in schools while making the cafeteria a more inviting and inclusive place for all students.”

The Rice Stuff podcast has talked with some of these heroes in the past.  Check out Episode 34, “U.S. Rice Goes to School,” and Episode 66, “School Nutrition, Rice, and Healthy Eating Habits.”