‘Taste of Unity’ campaign boosts school meal participation in Meriwether
Much like smooth seas never made a skillful sailor, School Nutrition Professionals across Georgia are demonstrating resilience and showcasing agility in a vastly different and often challenging COVID-19 environment. For our Meriwether County team, led by School Nutrition Director, Sandra Hudson, challenges brought on by new school meal delivery models were met by a charge to infuse new life into their program. This spark from their School Nutrition Director ignited a fire of collaboration at the Unity Elementary School, giving birth to a wildly successful school nutrition campaign dubbed ‘Taste of Unity’.
For students at Unity Elementary School, their lunchtime favorite ‘peanut butter and jelly sandwiches’ would disappear from the school lunch menu, pushing to the top the wide variety of hot meals, freshly prepared by their School Nutrition Team. With this, came a spirit of excitement set in motion by a clever design finalized with their Principal, Dr. Marci Vining
, that would see students awarded points on a scorecard as they ate from the wide variety of menu items featured in their school cafeteria, over an initial period of three weeks.
“Our students have become eager to eat fruits and vegetables and diversify their pallets with healthy lunch options like baked beans, our Memphis Barbeque Bowl, and even vegetable soup. There are now students rushing to our cafeteria, who have never eaten school meals before” their proud School Nutrition Director shared. Hudson was overcome with gratitude as she spoke of her incredible School Nutrition team in Meriwether County, Unity Elementary Cafeteria Manager, Rosanne Roberts, and the partnerships across their school district that would enable the success of the ‘Taste of Unity’ campaign.
From the naming of the campaign by the school’s Instructional Coach, to the teachers and staff who observed students and awarded points as they ate school meals, it was clear that there was full buy-in and shared joy at the project’s success with improving school meal participation rates. So impactful was this pilot at Unity Elementary, that additional schools in the district are now looking forward to the campaign being kicked-off in their cafeterias.
This innovative undertaking is among a slate of more recent successes for Meriwether County School Nutrition, coming on the heels of their introduction of two new service vehicles to their program, made possible through a $36,000 grant from the No Kid Hungry Georgia Campaign. “We are doing all we can to reach our students with quality meals. These vans and the commitment of our team pushes us further in our efforts to feed our remote learners and will enable us to reach our students more effectively in the upcoming summer months” Mrs. Hudson said.
After 37 years in School Nutrition and a total of 47 years in education, Sandra Hudson is still proudest of the light she sees in her students’ eyes when they are well-fed and the opportunity she has to support her team with the resources and the guidance they need to do life-changing work through feeding children.
The Meriwether County School District is located in Greenville, Georgia; through six public schools and an enrolled population of just under 2,500 students, they operate a small School Nutrition Program, doing BIG things!