Although Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s immensely popular “Lunch Lady” series of graphic novels will come to an end this year with the December 10 publication of Lunch Lady and the School-Wide Scuffle (Random House), the women and men who work in our nation’s school cafeterias will not be forgotten. Krosoczka recently announced that May 3 will now be known as “School Lunch Superhero Day,” a day for kids to show their appreciation for all of their cafeteria workers, who often receive little or no recognition or are even sometimes maligned in popular culture.
Since the publication of his very first Lunch Lady title, Lunch Lady and the Vyborg Substitute, in 2009, Krosoczka has heard countless stories of how his books have inspired kids to look at their school cafeteria workers with a newfound sense of awe and wonderment, he tells School Library Journal. “Through all of this, I’ve gotten to know the women and men who work tirelessly in our school cafeterias. They are such a fun and selfless bunch and don’t often get the recognition they deserve.”
Now he wants to use the popularity of his books to recognize the profession in a bigger way. “I didn’t set out to write the Lunch Lady books to shift perceptions, but it’s a gift that they have and I wanted to use that to create a day that would celebrate these folks,” Krosoczka tells SLJ.
Krosoczka will be gearing up for the first School Lunch Superhero Day with a visit to his own elementary school, Gates Lane Elementary in Worcester, MA, where “Lunch Lady” books, courtesy of Random House and the First Book organization, will be donated to every child.
Elsewhere, he hopes the day will inspire kids to make cards or even their own comics for their lunch staff, and the school library would make a perfect epicenter for this creative activity, he tells SLJ. He also suggests inviting local lunch ladies to the library or classroom to read from the “Lunch Lady” series, and asking them to share their own “secrets” with students. Students can surprise their lunch staff with snacks that they make, together with aprons that they have signed.
To help librarians and teachers develop these types of activities, Krosoczka has created a website where resources—including thank-you cards and other materials that can be downloaded, printed, and shared—will be made available. The site will also collect students’ own School Lunch Superhero tales recognizing the hard work and care that cafeteria staff put into their craft.
The idea took hold last year when Krosoczka met Rachael Walker, a reading consultant who helped shape the Read Across America campaign, a national event that has been celebrated on March 2 (the birthday of Dr. Seuss) since 1998. “Jarrett’s idea to get folks to realize that lunch ladies play an important role in kids’ health and education really struck a chord with me,” Walker tells SLJ.
She reached out to the School Nutrition Association (SNA) with the idea, who then invited the author to speak at its national convention this summer. “It is the great marriage of food, fun, and books,” says Walker. “SNA members feed our children so they’ll be ready to learn. It reminds us that everyone in the school building needs to work together to nourish growing bodies and minds.”
School Lunch Superhero Day is also sponsored by Random House Children’s Books.