WASHINGTON, DC— The National Education Association celebrates the role that school nutrition professionals play in schools and with students throughout the year, but especially during School Nutrition Employee Week (May 4-8) and on School Lunch Hero Day (May 1).
The first Friday in May has been designated as School Lunch Hero Day by national children’s author and illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka, creator of the Lunch Lady Hero series inspired by his childhood lunch lady, Jeannie. The acclaimed series is about two school cafeteria workers who serve hungry students by day and fight crime by night. The popular books put a spotlight on the important role school nutrition employees play in nurturing students.
“We know that one in five U.S. children are living in poverty, so the food students receive in schools may be the most nutritious and sadly, only meals some students get each day,” said National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García. “School food service staff make sure students are fed healthy and nutritious foods so they can succeed in and outside of the classroom. As a former ‘lunch lady,’ I know the hard work, care and professionalism these men and women put into their jobs every single day. These educators and all Education Support Professionals are heroes because they meet the needs of the whole student. Let’s celebrate them on School Lunch Hero Day and throughout the year.”
According to the Department of Labor, there are approximately 282,000 school nutrition professionals in public schools responsible for food planning, preparation and service.
Krosoczka has written and illustrated over 25 children’s books and speaks to schools across the country all year long. In his school visits, he advocates for school nutrition staff and all school workers. “We have to acknowledge and celebrate the hard work of our school lunch heroes,” he said. “They are feeding our children every single day, and before a child can learn, their bellies need to be full. These men and women are on the front lines to create an educated society. So say thank you and remember – that ‘thank you’ can change a life.”
The National Education Association celebrates the contributions of school food service staff and all Education Support Professionals in its new e-book, ESPs: Meeting the Needs of the Whole Student. NEA celebrates ESP Day every year as part of American Education Week, which takes place each November.