Holiday Highlights from PrimeroEdge Partners
Although there are many ways to celebrate the holidays, one thing most can agree on is that it’s all about bringing people together and doing what we can for one another. These PrimeroEdge customers are having a blast as they continue to spread generosity, cheer, and fun for their districts!
Lynchburg City Public Schools, School Nutrition Director Beth M.
While it’s been a challenging time for school nutrition, Lynchburg City Public Schools has not lost sight of what’s important this season – gratitude and giving back! Every year, school departments adopt a family, and this year, the school nutrition department is getting everything on one lucky boy’s Christmas list! Giving away more than presents this year, the district is also working with the health and student services department to provide vaccines to students between five and eleven years old. Even more ambitious than that, the kitchen staff volunteered to work over their holiday break to provide seven days worth of meals to families in their high-need area! It goes to show that no one is more committed to their work and understands the needs of their communities better than food service professionals. When families come to pick up the food, there may even be some holiday figures to add to the excitement! They have been planning for this since October, but this “true achievement” is worth it to ease stress for families this holiday according to Lynchburg’s SND. Of course, on top of serving students, it’s important to recognize the excellent staff who make all of it possible. They will also celebrate their 125-member leadership team with a holiday dinner complete with Christmas-themed games. It’s an impressive lineup, and we’re so glad some schools are in a position to continue the care beyond the regular school year!
“The pandemic and supply chain have impacted all of us, and there hasn’t been one family that hasn’t somehow faced adversity. For families that struggle daily to meet basic needs, we can’t know their situation. Since the holidays are meant to be joyful, we have to use our abilities and resources to spread as much joy as possible. We have a high-needs school district, and while it’s fulfilling to see the gratitude and appreciation from our community, seeing the faces of children happy and eating is all the reward we need. We are counting our blessings, and I believe that’s what the season is about,” Beth said.
Virginia Beach City Public Schools, SNA Chapter President and Cafeteria Manager Bonnie G.
Everyone is getting involved to spread merriment at Virginia Beach City Public Schools, from the school nutrition department, administration and students, and even the local SNA chapter! Their kitchens are implementing scratch cooking, and every month their chefs participate in a recipe contest which sometimes comes with prizes. This month’s contest is holiday-themed, and the staff’s original recipes may even make it onto the school menu. There’s no doubt their festively decorated kitchens are the perfect source of inspiration! The kitchen staff will also participate in their traditional potluck and gift exchange, where each person will get something from their Christmas list. The administration also offers a free lunch to employees, and always brings thoughtful gifts for all staff. Bonnie is the president of the local SNA chapter, and she makes sure they focus on helping food service employees. They collected enough food and turkey donations to make 11 Thanksgiving meals for families (including a vegan family)! Moreover, they’re also collecting monetary donations for five employees to support their holiday season. Last but not least, everyone at school can give back by joining a school club’s Angel Tree initiative, celebrating with door decorating contests, and enjoying the choir’s Christmas caroling on the last day before the holiday break. Creative, cheerful, and charitable – these schools have checked all the boxes! Click here to view some photos from their festivities.
“Holidays are always a time when family comes together. People tend to open their hearts more around this time of year. I think it is important to celebrate and give more now than ever. The last couple of years have really been a challenge for everyone. People need to know that there are people that still care. When we shut down in March, myself and a few of my staff had the honor of continuing to work, feeding children from the back door at another school. We did this when Covid hit hard. I say honored because I was there for them to talk to when they were at a low point in their life. They knew they could depend on me. That was a very humbling experience for me, and I am blessed to have gone through that. Giving back to your community has the same effect,” Bonnie said.
New Caney ISD, Child Nutrition Director Debbie N.
School nutrition professionals do much more than our communities may realize, which is why showing gratitude to their kitchen staff is a top priority for New Caney ISD! Imagination has shined this year on their campuses, not only in the everyday ingenuity of their staff, but in their team-building exercises. School kitchens were asked to create a holiday-themed community out of empty milk cartons. There was Whoville, a Pine Valley Middle School, themed village, and a classic Candyland. The top three winning campuses were given a Panera Breads breakfast. While that’s a grand prize, the best aspect of the competition was all the fun everyone had making them, and the enjoyment students got from seeing their school get into the holiday spirit! Recently, Debbie and a warehouse employee dressed as Santa and an elf to deliver Christmas-themed t-shirts to her department. They are excited to repurpose the attire when their department goes caroling at all the campuses! The district realized how crucial it was to thank and encourage staff, so everyone also received a $500 incentive. Debbie believes it’s important to make this time of year fun, especially because of this past year’s challenges. While school nutrition departments are often not as visible as other school departments, they continue to make a world of difference in the daily lives of their students. Click here to view some photos from their festivities.
“The school nutrition department can get swept to the side, and while our district does try to include us, we need to show our staff appreciation. I want our cafeteria staff to think of themselves as specialists instead of “lunch ladies”. I tell my staff we touch the lives of students every single day and our goal is always to reach one more. A positive environment is important to me, especially because I am very attached to these ladies. I think of us as a family, and appreciate how students depend on us. I want us to stay focused on the kids. We have to put a smile on our faces because food means comfort. I have a real passion for what we do and I want to share that with my staff and community.
PrimeroEdge recognizes the past year’s struggles, and remains amazed at the resilience and selflessness of schools and their nutrition departments across America. Thank you to our partners who shared their excitement and passion with us. These are just a few examples of schools who are exceeding expectations, but we know there are many more out there doing whatever they can to make this a special time for their communities. These districts have reminded us it’s always important to appreciate and celebrate each other, from the holidays and beyond!