Scott’s Free Lunches Comes to Mentor High

Meet Scott Anderson, creator and host of the YouTube series “Scott’s Free Lunches,” and the reason he came to Mentor


It’s not every day a YouTuber comes to MHS.

Last week, our Cardinal Works students hosted Scott Anderson of the YouTube show “Scott’s Free Lunch.” Scott travels the United States highlighting innovative methods being used in school cafeterias. Cardinal Nation took the opportunity to interview Mr. Anderson and watch him filming an episode in our building! Here are the highlights:


Cardinal Nation: What is your experience in education?

Scott Anderson: I have fifteen years as a teacher, ten years as a principal, and seven years as food service director. My first seven years were in special education, and then the rest were teaching history in seventh grade.

Cardinal Nation: How did you get started with Scott’s Free Lunch?

Scott Anderson: COVID took a lot out of me and I wanted some positive in my life so I’ve decided to show the love and share the stories that other people were doing in food service. All I saw on the news and talking with parents was all negative and I know there’s schools out there doing some phenomenal things and feeding students good food. I contacted DemoCook and they wanted to help me tell the stories. So we join together and now travel the nation telling stories about fantastic programs. When we were at the Ohio conference talking to Food Service directors, JTM said they had a school that was doing hydroponics. We reached out to Ginni and connected, and we came up to do the story.

Scott’s Crew Films Cardinal Work Students

Cardinal Nation: What is Scott’s Free Lunch?

Scott Anderson: One of the things I did in Madison County was made every student lunch free so I was a big advocate of feeding kids free lunches. We adopted that name to use for this program. However, lunches could be everything from training to teach in schools how to scratch Koch to helping them find the right oven or piece of equipment they need. It could be training on knife skills. Scott’s Free Lunch is is just a group who wants to help cafeteria managers and directors find what they need without having to leave their school.

Cardinal Nation: What is the importance of highlighting schools and their innovations?

Scott Anderson: I think most of the time when you ask someone about school lunch they have a negative thought, feeling or idea. I want to target schools to help change the mindset and let people know it is possible to have fantastic lunches. We will eventually break out and do restaurants and hospitals and other areas. We mainly want to focus on food. I’m not doing teachers because I feel teachers do get a lot of good press, but we will do bus, drivers maintenance people, etc.

Cardinal Nation: What is something you have learned since starting your show that was unexpected?

Scott Anderson: I think I’ve learned several things – one is that the schools that seem to be doing innovative and creative things and have a great support system with superintendent and central office staff. I’m also amazed at how little equipment some kitchens have or how many items need to be fixed or updated.

Cardinal Works Student, Cora (right) shares a smoothie with writer Juliana (left)

The Mentor Angle

Scott’s time at the high school focused on two areas: hydroponics and smoothies, both of which are run by our Cardinal Works students. Both of these innovations show how our students are contributing to the way our food services work and how the work they are doing contributes to the school.

On his first day, Scott and his team headed to Paradigm to see our “Flex Farm” at work. These systems work to grow plants – in this case, vegetables – without the use of soil. These plants in Paradigm are then returned to our cafeteria for use in lunches, such as salads.

On the second day, Scott had a front row seat to watch our students make smoothies for breakfast. They used ingredients prepared by our lunch ladies and make a variety of flavors each day of the week – both dairy and non-dairy. On the menu that day: strawberry banana.

This offering is new to Mentor High School this year, and according to cafeteria staff has been very well received. They say that smoothies can be a healthy breakfast for our students and get in some much needed nutrients. The best start to your day!

Additional Resources:

Scott’s Free Lunch