University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Celebrate holidays and theme days to ramp up excitement in the cafeteria

Rooney Elementary (Quincy) staff serving up all the condiments!

Rooney Elementary (Quincy) staff serving up all the condiments!

Celebrating holidays and theme days is a great way to get students excited to be in the cafeteria. Check out School Nutrition Association's promotion calendar for SY 23-24! Each month has a list of single-day and month-long observances that can be tied into menus and signage. Plus, a recipe is included for each month - for example, serve Banana Split Yogurt Parfaits on April 17 for National Banana Day!

And of course, dressing up is encouraged! Students love to see familiar faces get into the spirit with fun outfits and accessories.

Here are our picks for each month:

  • August - International Pirate Month, National Waffle Day
  • September - National Whole Grains Month, National Read a Book Day (Idea: Use books as inspiration for menu names!)
  • October - Vegetarian Month, National Noodle Day
  • November - World Kindness Day, Eat a Cranberry Day
  • December - National Pear Month, National Comfort Food Day
  • January - National Oatmeal Month, National Puzzle Day (Idea: Give out puzzle pieces over the week to students who try samples of different foods! If they try enough items, they will be able to put their puzzle together)
  • February - Black History Month, Lunar/Chinese New Year, Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras - all perfect for including culturally relevant foods!
  • March - National Reading Month, Read Across America Week - ask the school librarian how you can coordinate!
  • April - Arab American Heritage Month, National Grilled Cheese Month, National Banana Day, International Dance Day
  • May - Jewish American Heritage Month, National Salsa Month (Idea: Have students sample different varieties!)