AFTER ending his NFL career, a former offensive lineman has made it his mission to help the next generation.
Jared Veldheer, who spent 11 years in the league, has turned to cooking at his children’s school in retirement.
Veldheer was selected in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Division II Hillsdale and began his journey in the league with the Oakland Raiders.
After four years in Oakland, he moved to the Arizona Cardinals for another four years.
Stints with the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts followed before retiring from the game in 2021.
Looking for a new challenge, he applied for a job in the kitchen at St. Paul the Apostle School in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the fall.
This church happened to be the place where Veldheer and his wife Morgan had previously tied the knot and where their children were baptized.
“I kind of thought to myself, I might as well be in the dark about this,” he explained NFL movies.
“I liked cooking. I knew how important nutrition was to my performance and my career.”
“I thought it would be a cool thing to expand that and include it for an entire elementary school.”
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The 6-foot-2 Michigan native jokes that his official title is now “Lunch Man,” and his goal is to open children’s minds to new foods and introduce them to a more nutritious diet.
Speak with ESPNSaid Veldheer: “A lot of kids just eat crap. I think we live in a time where a lot of kids just get by with snacking all the time and only having processed crap in their cupboards.”
“So if I can make it a goal to give them a nutritious meal, then that’s good.”
A perfect example of this is the food he prepared for their Taco Tuesday while filming with NFL Films.
“A side dish was Mexican coleslaw with shredded kale, carrots, cabbage and a bunch of things kids don’t normally like.”
“But I made sure there was a good amount of sweetness in the dressing with honey, orange juice and pineapple juice,” he shared.
To convince kids to try his varied menu, he donned lederhosen when German cuisine was served and played Hispanic music on Taco Tuesdays, according to ESPN.
“It took a while to gain the children’s trust,” Veldheer admitted in an interview Washington Post.
“Kindergarten teachers are my harshest critics.”
Luckily, he had his children to rely on.
“I try to take into account what my children have told me when I prepare meals at school,” Veldheer explained.
He is obviously very proud of his new career and is working overtime to ensure everything is well sourced and prepared to the best of his ability.
“I source my beef from a local organic butcher – Louise Earl – and smoke a lot of meat at home,” Veldheer said.
“I also replace a lot of fat when cooking. And if anyone knows new ways to prepare vegetables, I’m interested.”
However, not everyone can be convinced.
“If someone puts ketchup on something I’ve made, I’ve learned that I don’t mind,” Veldheer admitted, adding, “As long as they try it.”