School Lunch Heroes

Honoring National School Lunch Heroes
By: Todd Martin
They are always super. Over the past seven weeks, they have been heroes.
Officially, Friday is National School Lunch Hero Day. This year, with school cafeterias closed, the hard work of those who serve students breakfast and lunch daily is clear as ever.
Two months ago, as decision-makers at every level of government pored over the emerging scope of coronavirus, Killeen ISD School Nutrition workers got organized, put together a plan and started serving breakfast and lunch at 12 school sites across the sprawling school system.
Sometime last week, servers surpassed 100,000 meals served. Through Wednesday, the number was 117,414 and it continues to rise.
Maybe more important than the impressive figures are the kindness, the encouragement, the smiles.
In front of Peebles Elementary School Friday, a team of five school nutrition employees all dressed in Batman outfits busied themselves gathering bags of combined breakfast and lunch items.
“It’s Superhero Day and we have the whole team dressed up,” said the school’s nutrition manager Maria Brown. “We do it for the kids. It makes them smile. The parents love it too. It brings an excitement to all this.”
Across town at Reeces Creek Elementary School, nutrition manager Dana Hopper and her staff members wore elements of Wonder Woman.
“We love our kids and we miss our kids,” she said. “They miss school. Seeing us allows them to experience part of their routine in a difficult time.”
Manor Middle School’s school nutrition employees also dressed as superheroes Friday. Manager Jennifer Johnson agreed with her colleagues at the elementary campuses that it is a privilege to be able to help families during the ongoing school closure.
“It’s going well. Our numbers are still up,” Johnson said. “It’s nice to be able to help the community. There’s a lot of positivity. We love to help as many people as we can.”
Even as the positive servers extend food and encouragement to children and parents, the family members do the same for the hard-working employees.
“We’re so happy and blessed to see them come by each day,” said Brown. “We know they love to see the lunch ladies. We all motivate each other. It’s a beautiful experience. We have parents bring us treats and drinks. They are reaching out to us.”
The school meal pick-up program continues from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. weekdays through May 29. In June, KISD school nutrition will transition to its regular summer feeding program with service to continue at a variety of schools.