CitySprouts and FoodCorps Bring Cafeteria Staff Out of the Kitchen and into the Limelight


It takes a lot of people to make a school thrive. The immense work that teachers, parents, principals, and students put into their schools' success are plain to see. But sometimes the vital contributions of other members of the school community go overlooked. This winter, CitySprouts' three FoodCorps service members brought attention to some very important people in the school: school cafeteria workers.

Feeding the hundreds of students who pass through each school cafeteria every weekday is no small feat. For some of these students, school breakfast and lunch are the most important and reliable meals of their day. The food they eat in school is essential not only to their academic success but also their overall health.

In order to highlight the invaluable contributions of these workers, the three FoodCorps service members working with CitySprouts this year--Amanda Chin, Annabel Raby, and Jessica Pearlman--organized Cafeteria Staff Appreciation Days at seven CitySprouts partner schools. Prior to the events, the FoodCorps team split up to interview all of the people working as cooks and servers at their partner school cafeterias. They used information from those interviews to create posters for each staff member that noted their accomplishments and told a little bit about who they were and why they valued their jobs. On the day of the celebrations, the FoodCorps team revealed the posters and also presented the cafeteria staff with thank-you cards and personalized aprons that had been signed by appreciative students, teachers, and administrators.

"The project was a great success," said FoodCorps Service Member Annabel Raby. "The students and staff were all incredibly enthusiastic about the project... Most importantly, the staff had a great time. They really basked in the day of fame."

The FoodCorps team are now working on organizing more Cafeteria Staff Appreciation Days at other CitySprouts partner schools. "During a busy school day it's easy to forget to say 'thank you' to those that are working hard to feed our students," said Annabel. "This has made me realize how important it is to make that extra effort to acknowledge the important work that every staff member is doing."