Superintendent's Memo #102-10

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

Department of Education

April 30, 2010

TO: Division Superintendents

FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: School Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week is May 3-7, 2010

School Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week is May 3-7, 2010. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) joins the Virginia School Nutrition Association (SNA) and schools across the nation in recognizing the dedicated, hardworking professionals who prepare and serve nutritious meals to students every school day. Please join VDOE in recognizing the important contributions that school nutrition employees provide to the success of our students as they strive to achieve academic excellence and optimal health. Preparing healthy meals, sharing nutrition information, and offering a friendly greeting is all in a day’s work for nearly 12,000 school nutrition employees working in Virginia’s public schools. Their efforts and commitment to children may often go unnoticed in the busy daily routine. This week is an opportunity for school staff, parents, students, and communities to thank those who prepare and serve thousands of school lunches and breakfasts every school day.

School nutrition employees must balance many roles and follow numerous federal, state and local regulations to ensure safe and healthy meals are available in schools. They are trained food safety and sanitation experts, and must manage programs that are financially self-sufficient. School nutrition professionals also provide nutrition education to students, as well as healthy catering services to their communities. They use their creativity to make the cafeteria a fun and welcoming place all year long and perform their jobs each day because they care passionately about the children they serve.

The importance and nutritional value of school meals are well documented. For many students, school meals are the most important and nutrient-rich meals of their day. Students and their families depend upon school meals for one-third to one-half of a student’s daily nutritional intake. The U.S. Government Accountability Office has found that “school meals are healthy, and children who eat school meals consume more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and dairy items than those who do not.” The role of school nutrition professionals is more important this year than ever before as more families rely on the federal child nutrition programs.

This week is a great opportunity to celebrate the school nutrition staff that makes your program a success. Let these professionals know you are thinking of them by celebrating School Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week.

For more information, please contact the school nutrition program specialist assigned to your division or Catherine Digilio Grimes, director of school nutrition programs, at (804) 225-2074.