Joe Urban Is Inspiring Kids to Eat Healthier by Redefining What School Food Can Be

Students taste test a new seafood dish: potato-crusted Alaskan Pollock; Joe Urban interacts with students in the Hollis Academy cafeteria; shrimp tacos are a student favorite in Greenville County, SC.

Joe is a pioneer. He pushes his staff daily to get better, to undergo training, to create new dishes in his test kitchen, and to inspire other schools to take school food to a new level.

Serving 76,000 K-12 students two healthy meals a day—every day—across 101 schools is no easy feat. In Greenville County, S.C., Joe Urban is leading a team of 750 foodservice professionals in creating delicious, nutritious, awe-inspiring meals that kids love. The Seafood Nutrition Partnership believes that makes him a School Lunch Hero.

Between preparing healthy food, adhering to strict nutrition standards, navigating student food allergies, and offering service with a smile, nutrition professionals have a lot on their plate. To celebrate their hard work and commitment, the School Nutrition Association and partners nationwide are marking May 5 as School Lunch Hero Day.

Joe Urban, director of Food and Nutrition Services for Greenville County Schools, oversees an innovative school foodservice program that serves more than 14 million nutritious school meals annually.

He and his staff are on a mission to reinvent school food with initiatives including scratch and speed-scratch cooking, serving breakfast in the classroom, offering Universal Free Breakfast to all students, serving fresh fruit, removing all highly processed chicken products from their menus, serving high-quality seafood, implementing salad bars with scratch-made soup in all schools, and using innovative methods like food trucks to provide free meals to children in need…

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