HOLLAND — The role of school food service workers is one that may often be overlooked, but one that is of critical importance. To recognize their work, the first Friday in May each year serves as School Lunch Hero Day.


Holland Public Schools posted photos to Facebook on Friday morning, May 1, thanking school lunch workers for packing and distributing meals. The photos featured food service workers wearing superhero masks as they prepared meals for the day’s food distribution and a graphic including the phrase “No need for a cape when you have an apron.”


The importance of school food service workers has been as important as ever in recent weeks. With K-12 schools across the state shut down for the rest of the year, districts and their food service departments have stepped up to continue providing meals that many students rely on their school to provide.


Local districts are combining to provides tens of thousands of meals each week.


Since schools closed in mid-March, Holland Public Schools has provided over 100,000 meals to area children. The food service department at West Ottawa Public Schools provided over 100,000 meals in the first 15 days of meal distribution, according to Assistant Superintendent Todd Tulgestke on Twitter.


WO Mobile Food Program has delivered 106,828 meals in 15 days. Huge kudos to @wofdsvc and WO Transportation Dept for keeping our families fed! pic.twitter.com/W9Fa6cc37G

— Todd Tulgestke (@toddtulgestke) April 17, 2020

School Lunch Hero Day was started by the School Nutrition Association and was first celebrated in 2013.


“Between preparing healthy meals for America’s students, adhering to strict nutrition standards, navigating student food allergies, and offering service with a smile, school nutrition professionals are true heroes,” the SNA website says.


“School Lunch Hero Day provides you with the perfect opportunity to recognize the hard working professionals in your school cafeterias. School Lunch Hero Day is a chance to showcase the difference school nutrition professionals make for every child who comes through the cafeteria.”


— Contact reporter Mitchell Boatman at mboatman@hollandsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @SentinelMitch.