“National School Lunch Week”
Education is more than books, numbers and maps and certainly more than the ubiquitous and paramount test scores used to define a district, a school, and a student.
Education in its truest sense is the process of promoting and directing learning. Granted, teaching is a necessary part of the educational process…but so are many other things.
Abraham Maslow created a hierarchy of needs which either stunt or promote individual development. The basic needs are described as “physiological,” needs such as air, food, water, sleep, etc.
The family unit has been the provider of such needs; however, as families struggle economically and deteriorate socially, new systems are required. Churches and schools continue to assume a larger role in this most basic, foundational need.
This past week, our schools and countless others across the nation celebrated “National School Lunch Week.” We in L56 are most fortunate to have incredibly talented, seriously devoted ladies in the cafeterias who cook food not only good for the body but also for the spirit.
Our cafeterias are the hearth of our districts. It is there our students receive nourishment for body and soul. Our cafeterias are safe places where children eat, socialize, and enjoy the ambience of the seasons. Our cafeteria staff constantly update and change the decorations
Why is “National School Lunch Week” important in our district? Simply put, we desperately need it. The latest data from the SC Early Childhood Profiles indicate Laurens County lags seriously behind the state in the number of children living below the federal poverty level. A brief recap of those children in low poverty reveals 26.3% (SC) compared to 35.3% (Laurens). Data further reveals South Carolina to be the 40th poorest state.
All of the above data reveal the basic human need of nutritious food to be a very real issue. Fortunately, our district is a part of the Community Eligibility Program (CEP) enabling ALL students to eat free.
This open invitation for free breakfast and lunch provides Laurens County School District 56 one of the highest active lunch participation rates in the state. Laurens County School District 56 has a daily participation rate of 93%, compared to a state rate in the very low 80’s. Director of Food Service, Cindy Jacobs, says, “Our daily participation rate is in the top five (out of 82 districts) in the state. It has nothing to do with me but it is all about the ladies in the cafeteria. Their love of children coupled with their desire to make good looking, good tasting, and all-around great food is a formula for success.”
Not only is our lunch program a daily thing during the school year, it is also a summer program, again free to all students 18 years old and younger. This past year, we had the program at Clinton High School and MS Bailey Child Development Center.
We are fortunate to have the leadership, vision, and commitment of Ms. Jacobs and her super staff. The accuracy and poignancy of the quote “Students may not remember what you said but they will never forget how you make them feel.”
Our students are in good hands during National School Lunch Week and every other week because of the superior daily effort of our district’s nutritional leadership and our schools’ commitment to nutritional excellence! Thank you ladies for being a vibrant, essential part of our district and its success.
(Dr. David O’Shields is superintendent of Laurens School District 56.)