If you have a preschool or school-aged child, you know that celebrations of all kinds fill school calendars as educators work to combine fun and learning to increase student engagement. As a School Nutrition Professional and mother of two, my favorite of these celebrations are food-themed days. In fact, food-based learning is a key component of the Georgia Department of Education’s School Nutrition Program, and a monthly celebration calendar with corresponding resources is included on the division website.
I am particularly fond of National Grilled Cheese Day, as this classic is not only delicious in its basic form but can also serve as a canvas to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in addition to your favorite cheese. You can even work your way through the alphabet adding everything from thinly sliced Apples or Avocados to Zucchini (or “ZuZu” as my little ones refer to it) into your gilled cheeses. This may sound “cheesy,” but the possibilities are endless!
Georgia’s School Nutrition programs often pair grilled cheese sandwiches with soups or salads and always offer them as a part of a complete meal consisting of all five food groups–fruit, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. School Nutrition professionals are also experts at sourcing local ingredients as part of these meals and for additions to classics such as grilled cheese sandwiches. Check out our Harvest with Holly videos and corresponding Georgia Harvest of the Month resources for inspiration from Georgia School Nutrition Programs when creating a meal out of your grilled cheeses.
Offering children a variety of choices at home and school encourages lifelong healthy habits and allows for success in school and beyond!
Holly Thaw, MS, RDN, LD is the Farm to School Specialist for the Georgia Department of Education. Prior to this position, Holly worked in school nutrition for both Fulton County Schools and Savannah Chatham County Public School System in Georgia. During this time, she led procurement and supplier relationships, managed USDA commodities, and developed district-wide wellness and farm-to-school initiatives. Her experience outside of school nutrition includes serving as a Public Service Faculty member through the University of Georgia Extension, as a Child Wellness Program Coordinator at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and as a clinical dietitian at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. Holly received her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia, her master’s degree from Georgia State University, and serves on Georgia’s Dietetic Licensure and Foundation boards. Holly is passionate about the relationship of School Nutrition Programs to the overall academic day. Learn more about Georgia’s School Nutrition Programs at https://snp.gadoe.org/Pages/Home.aspx.