“Hooray for vegetables!”

This cheer rings out each time a student at Laura Welch Bush Elementary School chooses the hot vegetable option while passing through the lunch line. And for the student that picks those hot veggies, they get to ring a bell.

It started in my first year as a manager here,” said Gaby Stockdell, the team lead of the Child Nutrition Services team at Bush ES. “Everyone was getting the carrots, because they have to get carrots – you have to get a fruit or a vegetable – but no one was trying the hot vegetables.”Gaby Stockdell, the CNS team lead at LWB Elementary, serves students in the lunch line.

Stockdell, a mother knowing the importance of piquing students’ interest in vegetables, thought she needed something to acknowledge those who did choose the hot veggie option.

“We’ll ring a bell,” Stockdell thought. “It’s just a little cowbell. And if they get the hot vegetable, they’ll get to ring it.

“It started as an encouragement, and the kids really liked it,” she said.

Engaging with students has been a priority for Stockdell since starting at Bush ES with a background working in restaurants. After arriving, she found her position with CNS to be an opportunity to do a little bit of everything she loves.

“The whole point of being in a school is interacting with the children,” she said. “I didn’t want to be stuck in an office or stuck in a kitchen. I was so surprised that I got to do both – work in the kitchen and serve the kids.

“I like being a server, because I get to talk to every kid,” Stockdell added. “When there’s a break, I get to walk around and talk to the kids. So it was so surprising that I get to balance what I knew how to do skill-wise with what I enjoy doing.”

Stockdell serves on the school’s allergy committee, and last year, she even started a food club.

“Gaby does an outstanding job with engagement at Bush Elementary,” Leander ISD CNS Director Steve Smith said. “She has connected with student groups, she supports parent involvement, and she creates an environment where CNS is more than just serving students a delicious lunch.”