Eat. Play. Learn. O is for OLYMPICS

To celebrate the publication of Proceedings of the Learning Connection Summit: Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Student Achievement, I’m offering a short daily post during February on the ABCs of the health and academics.


I am truly impressed by the dedication, commitment and love that most school nutrition professionals – or HEROES – have for their jobs and their customers. In a way, it’s rather like the dedication, commitment and love that athletes have for the Olympics. Lunch “ladies” and gentleman race around kitchens and cafeterias every day. Quickly changing menus when school is cancelled, figuring out substitutions when deliveries do not arrive, and then feeding hundreds of hungry children in a matter of minutes.

These every day heroes take the time to learn the students names – sometimes a manager will know the name and something personal about 400 or 500 students. They decorate their cafeterias and lines with artwork to educate and enjoy at the same time. This poster was one of several Olympic posters made by director Gen Armstrong, RD, for the Haines, Alaska, school district during the Olympic Games.

“Instead of changing the menus for the 2 weeks of the Olympics I just looked at the entree or when I was really struggling a condiment (like sour cream for Russia). I then drew their flag, listed how many medals they had going into the games, how many athletes, I then looked up a fact about the featured food, an athlete from there, and finally showed what a school lunch from that country would look like. After they have their day in the display they are taken down and hung around the cafeteria and will remain for the duration.”

Ms. Armstrong deserves a gold medal for her many achievements in the Haines Borough District. She serves Alaskan Farm-to-School produce on the salad bar – and fresh, made-from-scratch, locally-sourced mini crab cakes in the cafeterias. Now, that’s a school lunch that anyone could love. Thanks to Gen and to the thousands of school nutrition heroes for all the meals they serve – right now, somewhere in America, they area feeding the athletes training for Olympics 2018 and beyond. Go USA!

Haines (AK) Olympic Celebration

Haines (AK) Olympic Celebration

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