Lunch Lady Serves Justice, Lunch, and Gratitude
Last summer I had the wonderful opportunity to hear one of my heroes, author and illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka, speak at ALA. Later in the conference, I was able to talk with him for about a minute. During that minute I, to quote Mo Willems, “went boneless,” but managed to squeak out a few words. My admiration for Krosoczka grew in that short moment, his kindness evident with a star struck children’s librarian almost speechless before him.
One of the reasons I admire Jarrett Krosoczka is because he embodies the word gratitude. He never fails to express his thanks to those who helped him along his way in life: his grandparents, teachers, Jack Gantos, and the school lunch lady who inspired his much-loved Lunch Lady series. Krosoczka shares his story in a very moving TED Talk.
Gratitude is something we frequently talk about and practice at school, as it is a trait we want to foster in our students. In my mind, the best way to teach something is to practice and model the behavior. For this reason I was thrilled to learn about Jarrett Krosoczka’s School Lunch Superhero Day, a day to honor school cafeteria staff, the nutrition specialists who feed us every day.
At Colorado Academy, School Lunch Superhero Day was an easy sell to students in the Lower School (pre-k through 5th grade). The Lunch Lady graphic novel series is very popular and rarely sits on the shelf for long. Since this was our first year to celebrate and thank our own school lunch superheroes, we decided to start small. Second graders and their 4th and 5th grade buddies were recruited to read Lunch Lady books together and make thank you cards for our school lunch staff. In the library, we made a large banner that read “Thank You To Our School Lunch Superheroes!” and had every student in the Lower School sign the banner (the pre-k signatures were adorable!).
On May 2nd, students and teachers made two surprise appearances in the cafeteria that were prearranged with the Food Service Manager. He was the only one who knew we were coming. The students did a wonderful job thanking the staff for the hard work they do every day preparing lunch for every person on our campus. They made short speeches in English and Spanish to the cafeteria staff, expressing their gratitude for the tasty meals. We unveiled the banner and hung it on the wall. Students gave cards to individuals on the school lunch staff and also gave cards for the entire group to the Food Service Manager to share. We later learned that it had been a particularly hard week for cafeteria superheroes with two major campus events in addition to the regular lunch service. Students and teachers were happy to have brightened the week for them. The smiles on their faces as they read cards decorated with drawings and collages of pizza, vegetables, milk, and bacon (!) were rewarding for our students.
Most of the time we librarians discourage the combination of food and books—but this time it worked wonderfully. Perhaps Krosoczka’s Lunch Lady will visit your school next year on School Lunch Superhero Day!
*Permission to use photos was granted by the Colorado Academy Office of Communications.