By Greg Gelpi
Old Man Winter has the snowman, and Anna Blodgett has the "Banana Bunch," an award-winning group of decorated bananas with pieces of black olives for eyebrows, carrots for eyes, slivers of apple peel for lips and aprons of lettuce.
After winning first place in the county and first place in district, the Jackson Elementary School food services manager won first in the statewide garnishing competition of the Georgia School Nutrition Association for her food art.
"It's just really simple," Blodgett, 46, says of her food turned art. "Anybody can do it, which is why I was surprised I won."
Cutting fruit in half making various designs and decorating the cafeteria serving areas with stuffed animals and an inflatable cow, she says that the students at Jackson "get a kick out of" the special touches she adds to the eating experience
"Kids eat with their eyes," Jane Lofton, the director of the Clayton County School Nutrition Program, says. "It's all in creating interest in students. All of that creates eye appeal."
Food that looks good translates into students eating school lunch, she says.
"If it looks good, you're going to try it at least."
Blodgett, who has 13 years of school nutrition experience, started work in the cafeteria because of the convenient work schedule, but has since come to love her job.
"It's so great to see (students') faces," she says. "They're fun to watch when they come through."
School cafeterias have changed over the years, Blodgett says, recalling her days in school.
"You were served one thing and you took it," she says, adding that today's school nutrition program offers options to students, as well as breakfast.
Blodgett is married and has one daughter, who attended Clayton County schools before graduating. After her mother took the job in the school cafeteria, she began to ask her to cook tacos and yeast rolls similar to those she makes at school.
At home, though, Blodgett says that cooking is entirely different than at school, where she cooks for 900 students.
"You go home and you don't really want to cook," she says, explaining that she cooked daily for her daughter when she was younger and still cooks four or five times a week, although eating out is always a pleasure.
Prior to school nutrition, Blodgett worked as a homemaker and also in daycare.
When she's not in the kitchen, she's outside doing yard work, planting flowers. She also enjoys reading and arts and crafts, including cross-stitching, embroidery and sewing.
Everyday People is a regular feature of the News Daily. If you know someone in the community who you think should be profiled in this feature, contact Assistant Managing Editor Bob Paslay at (770) 478-5753 ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .