Food Literacy Hero
This month’s Food Literacy Hero needs no introduction to more than 300 K-5 grade students in Capitol Heights Academy in Sacramento. As the school’s food services manager, Willie Williams, or Miss Willie to her students, works hard to ensure that they get nutritious lunches and snacks full of healthy fruits and vegetables.
“I choose meals that are healthy and filling, because for many of these kids, it’s the only nutritious meal they get each day,” said Miss Willie. “I want to broaden what healthy food is all about to them.”
Miss Willie is instrumental in helping us reinforce our food literacy lessons by treating her cafeteria as a classroom where kids not only feed their bodies, but also their minds.
“It’s a joy to see Miss Willie’s enthusiasm for our program. She tastes everything we feed the kids, and always greets us with a hug and a smile,” said Amber Stott, founder, California Food Literacy Center.
Miss Willie has been working in the cafeteria for five years. She started off as a volunteer because her son, who is a student at the school, has ADHD and she wanted to see what they were serving and educate him on his food triggers. As the food services manager, she makes sure that the kids get plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables, and also nutritious foods such as sunflower butter they have tried during our food literacy lessons.
“Miss Willie remembered us delivering a lesson in making a sunflower butter and apple sandwich, and started including sun butter in her cafeteria,” said Stott. “It was a great illustration of how in sync we have become!”
Miss Willie is a wife of more than 40 years, mother of six, grandmother, and great-grandmother of ten! She said that her family has helped tweak and refine her culinary skills over the years. She grew up as the only girl in a house full of boys, and her mother taught her how to cook. She practices food literacy at home by baking instead of frying her meals, and also serving salad every day. Miss Willie, who is in good health, hopes to pass on her healthy lifestyle to her kids and grand kids.
Miss Willie feels that she learns something different from our food literacy lessons every week, especially when we have cooking lessons with the kids. She had never tried healthy watermelon sorbet until we made it for the kids, and loves that all our recipes are quick and simple to create. Before her son started food literacy lessons with us, he was never a fan of salads. After attending our classes, he loves kale and spinach, and eats all his vegetables.
The cafeteria is indeed Miss Willie’s classroom. She is our Food Literacy Hero for being a healthy food advocate to the 300 kids she serves every day. Not only does she ensure that they get a nutritious meal, she also encourages them to try new vegetables at the salad bar by asking “who is my explorer today?”
“My motto is, if you don’t try, you’ll never know if you like it,” said Miss Willie.
An excellent piece of advice served up by an excellent Food Literacy Hero!