Dishing About National School Lunch Week


National School Lunch Week 2018

There is something fun and exciting planned for the cafeterias at Hoover City Schools (Alabama) nearly every day. But one celebration Melinda Bonner, MBA, RD, SNS and her team get jazzed about is National School Lunch Week (NSLW). Last year, the department invited city councilmen, school board members, the district superintendent and assistant superintendent to serve lunch in the 14-combined elementary and middle schools. The event, City Leaders Serve Lunch, was a roaring success for adults and kids alike.

“[City leaders] wore chefs hats, stood behind the serving line and plated the food,” recalls Bonner, child nutrition program director. “Everyone loved it so much, it’s going to become an annual event.”

Marketing events like National School Lunch Week have become great opportunities to show the importance of school meals to teachers, school administration, parents and the overall community. NSLW has also become a crucial tool in generating more buzz amongst perspective customers.

National School Lunch Week 2018

“[NSLW] creates a lot of excitement about lunch participation,” explains Sharron Saunders, School Nutrition Manager at Troutman Elementary (North Carolina). “We increased 444 total lunches from the previous week during NSLW17.”

With this year’s NSLW theme being “School Lunch: Lots 2 Love,” Bonner is already stocked with balloons and other heart-shaped décor. (And she notes that these decorations will be perfect for the department’s Valentine’s Day festivities.)

The lunchroom love can extend outside the cafeteria by getting everyone at the school involved.

“This is how you get excitement in your schools,” says Saunders, who plans to celebrate #NSLW18 with coloring pages for the students, banners, plenty of decorations, display windows and themed spirit days. “You get teachers participating in the activities and that encourages the students to get involved. It creates an excitement not only in the school cafeteria but in the school throughout the day.”

National School Lunch Week 2018

Bonner can attest to the power of marketing initiatives like NSLW. While the event certainly helped boost participation during that week, she also noted that overall meal participation grew 2% during SY 2017-18. Events like NSLW continue to get the word out on programs like hers and boost involvement. And the school board will be making a proclamation about their involvement with #NSLW18.

“We want to show we have a healthy school district,” Bonner explains. “It brings awareness to parents and the community that our school district will be recognizing that it’s NSLW and just getting excited about the commitment.”

“This is also a big morale booster for our school nutrition staff,” notes Saunders. “It’s fun to have fun at work and it makes it better to work.”

SNA has many opportunities for you to share your love of school lunch. The downloadable NSLW Toolkit offers 14 pages of resources and ideas to help plan a successful campaign. To bring the celebration to life, artwork and designs are available.

Be sure to share your labors of love on social media and tag SNA in your posts! Heart-warming examples of love could be showcased in the December issue of School Nutrition. Photos and short reports can also be sent to

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