Chartwells K12 Honors its Heroes of the Cafeteria for Serving More Than 35 Million Meals During COVID-19 Pandemic

In the News

Even though schools are closed, the lunch ladies and men of Chartwells K12 have made their superpowers known by serving more than 35 million meals to children across the country. Today, Chartwells is celebrating School Lunch Hero Day as an opportunity to recognize and thank their 16,000 essential cooks, chefs, dietitians, and extraordinary foodservice workers who make sure students don’t go hungry throughout the year – and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Within 36 hours of schools shutting down this year, the Chartwells teams transformed the traditional cafeteria experience into drive-through, bus delivery and other meal pick-up sites in communities nationwide.  Focused on serving up happy and healthy every day, they continue to cook food kids love to eat and organize fun theme days to ensure mealtime remains a bright spot in a child’s day. Currently, the Chartwells teams are serving meals at more than 2,000 sites in 36 states.

“What many people don’t realize is that School Lunch Heroes are the ones feeding America’s children right now. Their selfless commitment to ensure no child goes hungry is making an incredible difference in the lives of students and families in need,” said Belinda Oakley, CEO, Chartwells K12. “As they work tirelessly to find ways to bring critical meals to families, their superpower strength shines more than ever before, but this can-do, whatever-it-takes attitude is honestly part of their DNA.”

Stories and appreciation of their hard work and dedication continue to arrive from communities across the country and is featured in this video:

Now in its 8th year, School Lunch Hero Day is a national program that recognizes school nutrition professionals for the amazing work they do to ensure students across the country are well-fed every day. Right now, that’s more important than ever.

When schools are closed, millions of children who rely on school nutrition programs could have been left without food. According to No Kid Hungry, 1 in 6 children in the U.S. live with hunger, and 6 in 7 hungry children don’t get adequate meals when school isn’t in session.

New Send A Smile Campaign
One of the most inspiring things throughout the COVID response has been the ways communities have come together to support each other. For Chartwells, that includes partnering with both groups across schools and fellow Compass Group companies, including Morrison Living. With extra precautions in place at Morrison Living senior communities nationwide, residents are unable to receive visitors or gather in groups. Through the new “Send a Smile” campaign, Chartwells K12 is rallying children across the country to write letters and draw pictures to send smiles to seniors. By distributing “Send a Smile” packets at Chartwells meal pick-up sites, kids are able to bring back their completed letters and pictures on their next visit to be shared with seniors from coast to coast.

“As we look at the world around us, there’s no question circumstances are different, but their resilience and dedication in the face of the current situation gives us all the more reason to celebrate our essential School Lunch Heroes this year,” Oakley continued. “I want our heroes to know they are setting an example not just for our children but to us all; their efforts will never be forgotten.”

About Chartwells K12
Chartwells K12’s goal is to make sure students leave the cafeteria happier and healthier than they came in, by serving food kids love to eat and creating custom dining programs. With more than 16,000 associates in 4,500 schools, ranging from large public institutions to small charter and private schools, Chartwells K12 is built on decades of food, education and operational experience driven by top culinary, nutrition, wellness, and sustainability talent. For more information, visit

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