Posted: Monday, October 12, 2015
“I think of the students as my children. I want them to eat what I would serve to my family. I try to interact with them as a surrogate mom so they know somebody cares,” said Jodie Gedenberg, food service employee at Riverside Middle School.
Greenville County Schools is celebrating National School Lunch Week October 12-16 to recognize the 750 food service operators serving 15,500 breakfasts and 53,500 lunches each day to students in 100 locations across Greenville County.
Jodie Gedenberg joined the food service team at Riverside Middle School two years ago. She said her colleagues are a great support to each other because they are all part of a team. “We have rotating schedules, so I may not be a server every day. If you job’s done, you go help someone else. We all know how to do every job, including preparing the entrees, the soup and salad bar, breakfast items, and dishwashing at the end of each shift,” she said.
Jodie has developed a love for each student at Riverside Middle and treats them like her own two sons. “I made homemade spaghetti sauce today for vegetable lasagna. I put my heart into it as if I were making it for my family. I think the options are wonderful – fresh veggies, made from scratch soups. The kids try them and want to get the healthy choices over and over again. It makes you feel good to know they like something you made from scratch,” she said.
AJ Smith, food service manager at Riverside Middle, said, “Jodie never says no, and she never says she can’t. She’s always smiling and always happy. She loves the students and she knows a lot of them by name. Jodie is one of the best employees I’ve ever had,” he said.
Greenville County students are eating healthier lunches, thanks to the Culinary Creations program in every elementary, middle and high school offering healthier entrée choices, made from scratch dishes, and a generous selection on fresh fruits and vegetables. For example, students may choose from baked penne pasta with meatballs or turkey pot roast, along with fresh vegetables from the Vegetation Station and a bowl of homemade tomato basil soup.
“Our menus have been deemed one of the healthiest in the nation and have been recognized with a Golden Carrot Award from the Physicians Committee on Responsible Medicine,” said Director of Food and Nutrition Services Joe Urban. “I am extremely proud of our accomplishments. But most of all, I am proud of the 750 food services staff members who have answered the call for more nutritious meals. They are committed to serving healthy, well prepared meals in a safe and sanitary environment each and every day.”
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.
Interested in seeing what our cafeterias serve for lunch? Click HERE to see this month’s Lunch Menus.
Food and Nutrition Services Facts
- 750 Food Service Operators
- 53,500 Lunches Served Daily
- 15,500 Breakfasts Served Daily
- 50% of Students on Free/Reduced Price Lunch
- 100 Food Service Operations
- 18 Central Office Food Service Staff
- 10 State and National Awards for Food Service