Show your support this Friday for National ‘School Lunch Hero Day’


Cafeteria workers fill buses to distribute grab and go lunches from Conte Community School in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Monday, March 16,2020. The lunches provide a good meal for children while schools are closed due to coronavirus. (Ben Garver/The Berkshire Eagle via AP)

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — The coronavirus pandemic may have closed schools down for the rest of the year, but that did not stop the school nutrition teams from making sure that every student who needed it, had meals prepared for every day.

Governor Ralph Northam announced a state of emergency on March 12, and shortly after, the closure of all schools and in-class learning throughout the Commonwealth through the end of the school year. After his initial announcement, schools and nutrition teams had meal preparation and distribution plans ready to go.

As a result of the efforts given by all the school’s nutrition professionals, on Friday, May 1 Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane is asking the community to show their appreciation on national “School Lunch Hero Day.”

“While social distancing may prevent students and parents from doing some of the things they would like to do to show their appreciation, it only takes a moment to share a message on social media to let our dedicated school nutrition professionals — and all those supporting their efforts — know how much they are appreciated,” Lane said.

Lane plans to share a video on Friday thanking school lunch heroes which can be viewed online and the School Lunch Hero Day website has many ways for you to support your lunch team. There are downloadable cards, social media shoutout ideas, lunch lady comic books, and even School Lunch Hero Day gear to wear.

In a statement released Wednesday by the Department of Education, the student feeding programs put in place during the shutdown have provided over 410,000 meals daily including breakfast and lunch for children and families throughout the Commonwealth.

Initially, there were restrictions on the program which have since been lifted. The waivers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture allow students to eat their meals off school grounds and parents can also pick up meals without the student having to be present.

“The efforts of our school nutrition programs to keep children fed during this public health crisis have truly been heroic,” Lane said. “In some divisions, school nutrition staff have teamed up with pupil transportation to deliver meals directly to the homes of children who are unable to get to central feeding stations. And everywhere, they are not only feeding children, they are keeping students and families connected with their school communities.”

The Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth plans to celebrate School Lunch Hero Day as they have been a leading supporter of Virginia school nutrition programs.

“Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth celebrates School Lunch Hero Day to recognize the hard-working school nutrition staff during this difficult time for Virginia’s students, staff, and families,” VFHY Executive Director Marty Kilgore said. “We appreciate them now and throughout the year for their work in providing healthy meals for students. School nutrition staff are fundamental in ensuring we empower kids to make healthy choices.”

More information including resources for celebrating School Lunch Hero Day can be found on the School Lunch Hero Day website.

Information about Virginia Department of Education school nutrition programs can be found on the VDOE website.

RELATED: Coronavirus school closings info: School meal distribution locations and information.

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