Lori Adkins, MS, CHE, SNS

I remember my first hot lunch at school. I was in the first grade at Westland Elementary school in Redford, Mich. I purchased a meal ticket (which was a black domino) early in the morning before the start of school and later waited in the lunch line to trade it for a hot dog lunch. The hot dog bun was warm, the accompanying corn was buttery and the sliced peaches and carton of milk were both chilled. Delicious! I’ll never forget this 50+-year-old memory, because this was the day I fell in love with school lunch!

A lot has changed in the years since I enjoyed my first school lunch, but one thing has stayed the same: Each day, school nutrition professionals across the country create special school lunch memories for students by serving beautiful, delicious foods that kids love. What do these meals mean to our students? The food served in school shows our caring, it is calming, and it is critical for student success!

Caring for people with food is one of my personal love languages, and if you work in school nutrition, it’s sure to be one of yours as well! Taking care of others’ nutritional needs by preparing and serving food is one of the most caring things we can do for our families, friends and our students. Food is also calming. When students experience hunger, it becomes all-consuming and distracting. The only way to flip the hunger switch is by eating. The school meals and snacks served to students help calm those mind and body distractions, allowing them to focus on learning and not on rumbling tummies. The research is clear: Hungry kids cannot learn, so it’s critical that all students have access to healthy meals to achieve success in the classroom every day.

Some of my favorite foods are simple—peanut butter and dairy items like milk, cheese and yogurt—but I consider myself a foodie, happily embracing a diverse array of foods, and I am always open to discovering new items. While kids have their own familiar go-tos, schools are a great place to introduce flavor experiences that may become future favorites! And there’s no better place for you to discover new recipes and concepts to share with students than at SNA’s Annual National Conference (ANC) in Denver this summer. At ANC, you’ll find all the tools and resources you need to serve up new school lunch memories for your students. Check anc.schoolnutrition.org for program updates and registration details, and I hope you’ll join me to “Reach Higher” in Denver, July 9-11!

Related Articles

Ad for General Mills, links to General Mills