“Scholars – will those of you who are trying tofu for the first time today please raise your hands.”
In a warm, sun-filled lunchroom nearly 100 soft hands popped right up.
With a smile, the teacher said, “Great—give yourselves a pat on the back for trying something new.” Giggles were exchanged and self-kudos dealt where due. “Alright, now will you please put your hand back up if you liked the tofu.”
That is the point at which my heart melted faster than the cheese on the lasagna we served the day before. It seemed that in a room of 100 students, almost every single hand was up, way up.
This—is why I am a lunch lady.
Butter Beans just opened up in a school that moved into a brand new location in Brooklyn. At the very start of the New Year, teachers and “scholars” (as the students are called), beamed as they entered the building for the first time with a brilliance that rivaled the glimmer of the beautiful new facility.
Serving food here has been truly monumental for both the students and the staff, and I beam with pride and joy every time a teacher recounts another success story about the impression the lunch service is having on the students and the teaching staff alike, and they just keep coming.
One teacher told me that a student said, ‘Ms. A—you have to try the Butter Beans food, it’s so good that even the teachers eat it!” Another time, I overheard a student remark, ‘This milk is so good it tastes like it came straight from the cow!’ Every week since we started serving lunch here, I’ve been amazed to have to increase the amount of vegetables that we order from the kitchen to prep and serve at the cold bar.
Teachers tell me they themselves feel markedly different in their day after being nourished by the well-balanced and love-filled meals prepared by the talented Butter Beans chefs. The principal laughed as he confided in me that one parent said that their child regularly comes home and only wants to talk about how good lunch was that day!
While there are some students who are still adjusting to our foods, like our homemade parfaits (the principal assured me that the students are used to yogurts with higher sugar content) – with a little bit of encouraging, plenty of support from the staff, and with the continuing effort of the Butter Beans team to create meals that are both healthy and tasty, one by one the scholars will come around, and they will undoubtedly feel the difference the taste makes.
This post was contributed by Madison Sheffield, Butter Beans Cooking Instructor, Curriculum Developer & Food Service Supervisor.
Photo courtesy of Andrea Nguyen