Not These Lunch Ladies!

school nutrition

I was recently scheduled to do a demo on one of our CVap® Retherm Ovens at the Tift County School District in Georgia. I was looking at their menus for that day to see what we would be cooking when I saw the words: NO SCHOOL/PARENT/TEACHER CONFERENCE. A frightening thought entered my mind. I feared that no staff would be there and we would need to reschedule. Actually, my first thought was, YES! No School! A juvenile reflex, I guess. So I sent a note to Kogi, one of the Assistants to the Director, and asked if they would be in that day. “Yes,” she said, “it’s a student holiday, but still a work day.” Awesome, not only will they be in, but I’ll have their complete attention while doing my demo. But, will they be in a bad mood? As it turned out, not these lunch ladies!

The kitchen was humming when I walked in. Everyone was busy cleaning and organizing. The manager gathered her flock around the CVap oven for my demo. And just as I had hoped, they gave their complete attention. They were engaged, asking questions, even smiling. We cooked frozen pizzas on Channel 3 for about 12 minutes. Naturally, they came out great. The ladies ate and we talked, but then they went right back to the deep clean, smiles still on their faces. I was borderline astonished. These ladies were doing the job most people hate (imagine deep cleaning your kitchen and multiply it by ten). But they also have to listen to me, a company gasbag, trying to tell them how to use our oven.

Recognition for a Challenging Job

A little background on what lunchroom staffs do each day. Nationwide, these workers prepare and serve over 30 million lunches and 14 million breakfasts daily. Some even provide meals at night and through the summer for their communities. They greet rambunctious kids with a smile and perhaps the only nourishment they will receive that day. Then they clean and scrub and, for a lot of them, it’s off to the next job. Let’s face it, it’s not the most glamorous in the world and it’s certainly not the highest paying. Many of them have a second occupation and they are most likely the ones cooking and cleaning at home. It’s a thankless job.

It would’ve been so easy for the staff at 8th Street Middle School to mail it in and be crabby, thinking about what they could’ve been doing had they not been at work. But, not today. Not these lunch ladies!

Remember to tell your lunch staff thanks for the delicious food they prepare and all the hard work they do for you each day. Trust me, they will appreciate it more than you know!


Street Tacos for School Lunch!

When you were a kid in school you probably didn’t give much thought to learning about your future career from the lunchroom. I’d be willing to bet that your school district didn’t have a culinary program either, or street tacos at school. Times have changed.

This is Culinary Specialist Chef Ron Jones with Esteban Gonzales. We are the leaders of the student-driven taco recipe team at Greenville County School District, GCSD.

I recently returned from another stop on the School Nutrition Guru world tour. I’ve got to tell you they just rocked the cafeteria at GCSD’s Mauldin Middle School.

The day started with a visit to GCSD Nutrition offices, where I saw a familiar sight in Director Joe Urban’s office. He’s a true media wiz and grabs pics and videos whenever he can to show the pride he has in this awesome district.

Then we drove to Mauldin Middle to meet the student team that had the winning recipe in the district. I felt fortunate to spend time with them. The team members were Hunter Criswell, Esteban Gonzalez, Joe Urban, and Michael Harmon.

students love street tacos

Students line up to try the street tacos.

Let's Make Street Tacos!

The first thing the team checked were the taco ingredients conversions to school-level preparation. For example, the student design team’s original taco featured red onions pickled in red wine vinegar. The school version switched to white vinegar.

Then came the first taste test by the team. They agreed the tacos needed a replacement tortilla and a change was made and tested once more. Then on to the lunch rush!

Vicki Thompson is the amazing, energetic Cafeteria Manager at Mauldin Middle. Just ahead of lunch each day she holds a pep rally with her team. It’s incredible to watch. She has a constant smile and she and the staff LOVE their students!

This next part was really cool! Chef Ron grabbed the recipe team members and had them help build a balanced complete tray as it might look when the tacos will be added to the GCSD menu cycle.

Winston is proud to have CVap equipment in the GCSD kitchens!

Word gets around fast when just one kid says “free tacos!” The open hands below didn’t hear about it until they got to their tables with their trays which they promptly left to come back for a sample.

Why not become a friend and fan of Greenville County Schools Food and Nutrition Services Facebook page? You’ll see trends being set and breakthroughs happening. Just recently GCSD made the top ten list on the Food Research and Action Center’s 2016 Scorecard!! It’s not just about School Lunch, read about #schoolbreakfast too!!

You can also watch a short video about Greenville County SC’s newest addition to their lunch menu.