Some of the heroes who aren’t wearing a cape are the members of the cafeteria staff who interact with learners every day and sometimes provide them with the most positive interaction they have had all day. These folks are often able to provide conversation with learners outside of the academic classroom that lets them know they have caring adults who pay attention to them.

After two-and-a-half years of scaling back and serving less, these folks in Ligonier Valley School District’s food service department are focused on getting back to the “norm,” as they continue to provide positive interactions for learners on a daily basis.

“We are providing more choices, more grab and go items, and more A la carte items,” explained Metz Culinary Management’s Jennifer Sweeney who is contracted to serve as Ligonier Valley School District food service director. Sweeney also noted that free breakfast will be provided to all learners beginning Oct. 3. Lunch is no longer provided free by the federal government, so it is important for folks to complete the free and reduced-lunch applications.

“Going back to the learners paying for lunch meals has been an adjustment,” Sweeney noted. “It will be an adjustment for families. We encourage them to complete the paperwork so that they may qualify for the free or reduced-lunches.”

As the cafeteria staff in all buildings has been working hard to serve top-quality food, the most popular items have been the RAM mashed potato bowl, sesame chicken over rice, homemade pizzas, pastas, and breakfast for lunch. The food service team accommodates any allergens with a special request meal option and is also happy to make special requests for staff members in the district.

Sweeney said the avian flu may affect the upcoming holiday meals, but she and the department have been working on making adjustments to the menu.

“It seems the learners are willing to try different things, and are very positive about any new items we try out with them,” Sweeney enthused. “We are serving about 600 breakfasts and 900-1,000 lunches per day in the district.” Sweeney noted that breakfast participation may increase after the meal is provided free to all in October.

Noticing that many learners do not take advantage of building a complete meal, Sweeney is working to educate them on the importance.

“In my position, I would like to educate learners about the importance of a full meal and have them take more fruits and vegetables with their meals,” she said. “They have the opportunity to build themselves a wonderful lunch tray, but yet very few take all of the components offered.”

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