TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, its Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness, and No Kid Hungry and the Dairy Council of Florida are seeking nominees for the designation of 2021 School Lunch Hero, as the state prepares to honor all school lunch professionals during the first week of May.
“Kids can’t perform well when they’re hungry – and for so many kids, school meals are the only meals on which they can rely. School nutrition professionals are crucial to the success of Florida schools because they help students focus on the classroom, instead of on food insecurity,” said Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. “These hunger-fighting champions undertake tremendous planning and work in preparing nutritious meals every day for nearly three million Florida kids. We thank them and along with our partners No Kid Hungry and the Dairy Council of Florida, we look forward to celebrating the best of Florida’s school lunch heroes.”
Schools and parents can easily nominate a school lunch professional online at FloridaSchoolHero.com – but act quickly, as nominations will close at midnight EST on Friday, April 23. Five nominees will be announced with prizes during celebrations in the first week of May, concluding with national School Lunch Hero Day on Friday, May 7, 2021.
School lunch professionals have faced unique challenges during COVID-19, including creating and implementing new safety protocols for in-person students and preparing to-go meals for distance learners, on top of their daily mission to create nutritious meals, ensure food safety, instill healthy habits, and combat hunger. In the 2020 school year, Florida school nutrition programs suffered $262 million in funding losses due to pandemic school closures, creating additional pressure on school nutrition personnel.
About the Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness: The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer services and its Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness conducts, supervises, and administers child nutrition and commodity food distribution programs that are carried out using state or federal funds. We provide outreach, guidance, and training to child nutrition program sponsors, schools, school food service directors, parent and teacher organizations, and students about the benefit of fresh food produced in Florida. Our mission is to ensure that every child in Florida has access to a healthy, nutritious meal each day; increase awareness and consumption of Florida’s agricultural commodities; reduce food insecurity among Florida’s most vulnerable populations; and encourage healthy lifestyle among Florida residents.