By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Bulloch County celebrates its school lunch ‘heroes’
Nutrition staff has prepared 1.4 million meals so far for students this school year
Portal Elementary school nutrition
The school nutrition staff at Portal Elementary School is shown. (Courtesy BULLOCH COUNTY SCHOOLS)

Does the thought of preparing food for a family gathering stress you out? What if you had to prepare breakfast and lunch for hundreds of children every weekday and have it ready to serve at an exact time? Impossible? Well, not for Bulloch County Schools’ nutrition staff.

The school district's team of 85 school nutrition staff have prepared more than 1.4 million meals so far this school year, and they'll serve thousands more during the summer feeding program.
Between preparing food, adhering to strict nutrition standards, navigating student food allergies, and offering customer service to their young students, Bulloch County Schools' nutrition professionals have a lot on their plate.

To celebrate their hard work and commitment, the school district joined the nation this week in commemorating School Lunch Hero Day Friday.
Celebrated annually since 2013, School Lunch Hero Day was designated by the School Nutrition Association and Jarrett Krosoczka, author of the “Lunch Lady” graphic novel series. School Lunch Hero Day provides an opportunity for parents, students, school staff and communities to thank those who provide healthy meals to nearly 30 million of America’s students each school day.
In Bulloch schools this week, nutrition professionals have been honored and recognized by students, school staff, parents and the community. 

Nevils Elementary school nutrition staff
The school nutrition staff at Nevils Elementary School is shown. (Courtesy BULLOCH COUNTY SCHOOLS)

"We prepared thank you cards and banners for students to sign, and we visited schools to present each staff member with certificates," said Desiree Yaeger, the district's interim school nutrition director.
School nutrition employees balance many roles and follow numerous federal, state and local regulations to ensure safe and healthy meals are available in schools.
"School Lunch Hero Day provides the opportunity for the community to thank these hard working heroes for their dedication to fueling our students for success,” Yaeger said.

Sallie Z school nutrition staff
The school nutrition staff at Sallie Zetterower Elementary School is shown. (Courtesy BULLOCH COUNTY SCHOOLS)

One of the district's heroes is Hughette Bonnette, the food service manager for Portal Middle High School. She has helped prepare meals for children for 28 years.

"My sister was working in food service here in Bulloch County, she told me about a job opening, and here I am 28 years later," Bonnette said. "I love my job, I love cooking and being around children."
Sarah James, the food service manager for Langston Chapel's elementary and middle schools, has been in school nutrition for 17 years.
"I worked in food service at industrial plants," she said. "I came here one day for a meeting for my daughter, and I learned the lunchroom needed a manager. I applied for the job and was hired. The best part of my job is seeing the children smile and say, 'Oh this is my favorite; it is so good."
Federal nutrition standards ensure that school cafeterias always offer low-fat or fat-free milk, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. School meals also meet limits on calories, sodium and unhealthy fats. 

SHS school nutrition staff
The school nutrition staff at Statesboro High School is shown. (Courtesy BULLOCH COUNTY SCHOOLS)

The importance and nutritional value of school meals are well documented. For many children, school lunch is the most important and nutrient-rich meal of their day.  
"I enjoy serving children because having a balanced meal helps them to focus more on learning," James said.
Bonnette and James encourage others to be school lunch heroes. Anyone interested in joining a school lunch staff may apply online at
"It's hard work, but I feel that we do something the children need," Bonnette said.  "I know when they come into our cafeteria they will get a smile and a meal each day."

Hayley Greene is director of Public Relations for Bulloch County Schools.

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter