Posted: Friday, October 12, 2012

group of 5 adult cafeteria workers standing behind containers of food getting ready to serveOctober 15-19, 2012
“The greatest compliment I receive from a child is, ‘I really love your cooking.’ They are our toughest critics, so to see them eating the food and really enjoying it gives me great satisfaction.” - Paula Wambeke, Monarch ES Cafeteria Manager

Greenville County Schools is celebrating National School Lunch Week October 15-19 to recognize the more than 700 food service operators serving breakfast and lunch to students in nearly 100 locations across Greenville County. 

male cafeteria working stirring food in a large cookerPaula Wambeke, cafeteria manager at Monarch Elementary School, was among about 160 food service staff members from 29 schools who received training this past summer on how to prepare healthier foods.  Dubbed “Culinary Creations,” the food preparation program is aimed at providing students with fresh, local foods prepared from scratch by cafeteria staff.

“Cooking from scratch is what makes our school lunches different,” she said. “Knowing that the food is prepared correctly ensures that we know what they’re eating. It’s just like cooking at home.”

She added, “When the students come in the morning and they’re carb-loaded, they tend to conk out about mid-morning. It’s good to see them eat something healthy, and enough to sustain them until lunch and the rest of the day.”

School lunches across the nation are healthier this year, thanks in part to new requirements from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The new meal standards, which include healthier and more nutritious food, became law this summer to promote better nutrition and reduce obesity. The new standards ensure students are offered both fruits and vegetables every day; substantially increase offerings of whole grain-rich foods; include only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties; limit calories based on the age of children to ensure proper portion size; and reduce the amounts of saturated fat, trans fats and sodium.

Research shows that children who have healthy diets and get regular physical activity are more likely to perform better academically.  These healthy habits may also play a role in helping children improve concentration, attendance, classroom behavior, and self-esteem, and lower obesity rates.

Food and Nutrition Services FACTS

Food Service Operators


Lunches Served Daily


Breakfasts Served Daily


Percentage Free and Reduced Lunch


Number of Food Service Operations


Central Office Food Service Staff


CATCH Food Service Programs


State and National Awards for Food Service


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