On October 9, 2015 at the Dr. Freddie Thomas Campus, the Healthi Kids staff in partnership with the Rochester City School District (RCSD) Food Service Department, Playworks, and Dorthea King Simpson of DEKS Consulting, hosted a workshop specially designed for RCSD Food Service workers and lunch aides.

Nearly 75 cafeteria staff attended the “Playworks in the Cafeteria” training which introduced new methods that support a healthy cafeteria environment for students - focusing on excellent customer service, nutrition education and promoting increased collaboration between District Food Service workers and lunch aides.  This was the third training of its kind in Rochester and the event drew the largest attendance to date.

Dwana Harrell, Parent Liaison at School #2 attended the training and believes that “Encouraging the Food Service workers and the lunch aides to work together will create a more peaceful environment for the students” and Healthi Kids agrees. 

Over the past several years, Healthi Kids and the Children’s Institute have conducted multiple cafeteria observations to see if students were throwing out food and if so, why and how much.  We observed that a significant amount of food was indeed being tossed out during multiple observation periods, but not for reasons we would expect. Some of the waste was due to the student’s opinion of the quality/taste of food but we also found that the interaction between cafeteria staff and the students played a key role in the amount of food students wasted.

Jen Tomczyszyn, Greater Rochester Health Foundation said it best, “We want kids to eat lunch every day at school and have a positive experience during this break in the day. Our goal is for every student to leave the cafeteria with a belly full of healthy, delicious food.

It’s imperative that Rochester City School District students eat lunch daily during the school week.  Studies show that there is a direct link between students eating healthy food and success in the classroom.1 With 84 percent of RCSD students qualifying for free or reduced lunch, 22 percent of its schools having a poverty rate of ninety percent or higher, and having the highest poverty rate among the five largest school districts in the state it’s important that every child gets the optimal nutrition they need to make the most out of their school day.2 

To learn more about the results of our lunch observations, visit the School lunch tab on our "Eat Healthy"Resource Page.  

[1] Sorhaindo, A., & Feinstein, L. (2006). What is the relationship between child nutrition and school outcomes. Wider Benefits of Learning Research Report No.18. Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning

[2] Office of the New York State Comptroller (2005). Local government issues in focus: Financing education in New York's 'Big Five' cities. Division of local government services & economic development.