2,160 Smiles- How Franklin Makes a Difference


At 8:30 every morning, a familiar scene replays in the main hall at SouthSide Early Childhood Center as children and parents begin to arrive for the day. Children, parents' in tow, excitedly run towards the open door leading into SouthSide’s industrial kitchen. They’re looking for Franklin Petty, SouthSide’s Food Services Manager. “The kids stop by the kitchen to say good morning and they’ll often wait at the kitchen door until they see me,” Franklin says, a smile stretching from ear to ear. Franklin is a crowd favorite at SouthSide and he knows it. When he walks down the halls, children clamor to catch a glimpse of him and when he visits the playground while the children are outside, a stampede of young children charge at him to say hello. Franklin, a veteran cook for 33 years, has exactly the attitude and experience that SouthSide needs. With all the dietary and cultural restrictions of the children at SouthSide, being in charge of food prep could be daunting! But for Franklin, it is a welcome challenge. SouthSide is a nut, fish and pork-free facility. In the classrooms, however, there are also vegetarian students, students who drink soy milk in place of dairy, children who can’t eat eggs or beef and children who are allergic to various berries or fruits. Franklin skillfully navigates the modifications necessary for these children all while preparing 2,160 servings of food for SouthSide students every week- and he never misses a beat!


SouthSide is committed to providing nutritious food to our students. Franklin makes it his personal mission to ensure that our students receive the best possible meals – healthy and tasty. He meets with vendors and SouthSide’s Office Manager weekly to create meal plans. He chooses seasonal foods that he knows the children will enjoy and, because groceries are delivered weekly, Franklin is able to choose and serve the freshest fruits and veggies! When asked why the children respond to him so well, Franklin explains “I’m smiling all the time and if I’m not smiling, I’m singing.” Franklin’s positive energy is infectious and definitely a major reason why the children at SouthSide love him. And Franklin’s favorite part of SouthSide? The kids!

From all of us at SouthSide Early Childhood Center, thank you, Franklin, for everything you do - in and out of the kitchen!

This post was written by Lee Poe, Community Relationships Coordinator at SouthSide Early Childhood Center. For more information, contact lpoe@southside-ecc.org .