CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin teamed up with the first grade class at Lakewood Elementary School from St. Albans Friday morning to proclaim May 2 “School Lunch Hero Day” at the state capitol.
West Virginia School Nutrition Association President Chris Derico said school cooks are heroes and deserve a pat on the back.
“They work behind the scenes frequently. They’re up early. They often don’t get the recognition they deserve,” explained Derico.
Several nutrition specialists were on hand as well as some school cooks. State Nutrition Association President-elect Patti Robertson started out in the school system as a cook at an elementary school. She said times have changed.
“We’re doing a whole lot more scratch cooking than used to be. The processed food is out! (The kids] are getting real food, fresh food,” according to Robertson.
Derico said one of the big challenges for school cooks is making sure kids, like the ones from Lakewood, want to eat what’s on their plate.
“It’s a challenge to make sure we’re following the meal pattern and providing food they’ll eat and encouraging them to try new food,” he said.
The kids from Lakewood were wearing their “Fuel Up to Play” t-shirts. It’s a program sponsored by the National Dairy Council and NFL that empowers students to take charge in making small, everyday changes in their meals and health at school.