Posted: Wednesday, October 14, 2015
“My favorite recipe is tomato basil soup. It’s full of vegetables, tomatoes, garbanzo beans, lots of onions and celery, diced tomatoes, and spices. We serve the soup with grilled cheese, and the children can’t wait to eat it,” said Amanda Drew, assistant food service manager at Monarch Elementary 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.
Amanda Drew grew up on an 80-acre farm in southern Greenville County, where she attended Ellen Woodside Elementary, Woodmont Middle and Woodmont High schools. After spending a few years in North Carolina, she returned to her hometown and began working for Greenville County Schools’ Food and Nutrition Services Department.
“My favorite part of the job is serving lunch,” said Amanda. “I love seeing the students and hearing about their activities. They will tell you where they’ve been over the weekend or talk about a pet or a book they are reading.”
Amanda especially loves the students who are a little quirky, like the student who asks every day if they are serving pizza. “There are a lot of characters here. Some students always look for a special salad, and others always ask for all the toppings on their salad,” she said.
Monarch Food Service Manager Joe Holmes said Amanda has been a huge asset to the food service crew. “She knows what’s going on. She’s my eyes and ears. She keeps me informed of the day to day things that I might overlook,” he said.
When the school day is done, Amanda heads to her two-acre plot of land on the family farm, where she and her two daughters grow organic vegetables. “I started farming about nine years ago. I needed extra income and since I had grown up on a farm, it was the ideal situation for me,” she said. She heard about a restaurant in downtown Greenville that wanted to purchase local, fresh, organic vegetables and today, Amanda’s produce is proudly served there. For the next month or two, Amanda will raise and harvest fall vegetables including cabbage, different lettuces, turnip greens, and mustard greens.
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.
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