MANTI—School lunch workers are true heroes of our pandemic year, according to a report presented by Trevor Powell, assistant superintendent of the South Sanpete School District, at their April board meeting.
A little history first. A form of school lunch has been around since the 1800s. In World War I, many young American men were rejected for service because of poor physical condition and an awareness of malnutrition surfaced.
The depression of the 1930s brought on more malnutrition, which helped form the school lunch program. Farmers needed to get rid of their crops, people needed jobs, and children needed to eat. It was a win-win situation.
About 7.1 million children participated in the National School Lunch program in its first year. Since then, the program has reached millions of children nationwide: 1970: 22.4 million children; 1980: 26.6 million children; 1990: 21.1 million children; 2000: 27.3 million children; 2010: 31.8 million children; and 2016: 30.4 million children. Last year there were 29.6 million students served school lunch daily in our nation.
Powell said with the federal government providing lunch for all students, the high schools did not see a significant increase in lunches served—about 10-15 percent increase. “Our lunch workers do a great job serving our schools and we want more students to take advantage of a free lunch,” he said.
In the past year, the district has served 387,289 lunches and 48,999 breakfasts. When COVID-19 hit the schools, cooks and lunch workers were praised. Lunch ladies stood in the rain, snow, sleet, and what at times, felt like small hurricane force winds, to make sure students had the nutrition they needed.
The lunch ladies of South Sanpete School District have worked hard to keep things as normal as they could. Many went above and beyond and were still able to celebrate birthdays and special occasions, learn new things and expose students to unique fresh fruits and vegetables.
One lunch worker said, “I received this note from a high school student on Friday. Later that day we shut down schools. The impact this note made on us was unforgettable. The note said, “The calzones were amazing. Thank you all so much for what you do for this school. You are all amazing cooks and amazing ladies. I hope you have a great day and weekend.”
The board agreed that students and parents should be grateful for the sacrifices and devotion shown by all the districts school lunch workers.