School food service employees are actual everyday heroes, feeding nearly 30 million children each day. This is why School Lunch Hero Day exists.
However, the celebration of these exceptional humans seems more significant this year.
Right now, going into public is a risk to our health. And yet, we still need food, medical care and medication. It’s the people on the front lines, like school food service employees, who are keeping us all afloat.
The moment schools closed because of COVID-19, nutrition department staff members all across the country scrambled to find ways to serve students and their families.
School nutrition professionals understand how vital their program is for those children living with food insecurity; school meals are often the only food these children eat each day. Without school meals, millions of children would go hungry.
Our nation’s school food service employees have our unending gratitude. Their capes are invisible, but they’re doing whatever it takes to serve our communities during a crisis. Each of you is a School Lunch Hero.
As a thank you, we want to highlight several nutrition departments going above and beyond to feed children and families during the outbreak. Find out what these districts are doing that sets them apart.
Sherry Sowers, Director of Tucson USD, and her team have been hustling to serve free meals to those who are 18 and under with no eligibility requirements. Sowers partnered with their district’s transportation department to make it all happen.
The group set up twelve bus routes and made a whopping 113 stops to deliver their Grab-and-Go Mobilized Meals across the district. The staff provides a 10-minute window at each stop for people to pick up their meals, which includes one breakfast and one lunch for each child present.
Erin Primer, the director of San Luis Coastal USD in California, is distributing weekly meals at designated school sites for district students. Families can use the Meals Plus Online Ordering feature to facilitate preparation and production for their Food Services Team.
In Iowa, director of Perry School District Gail McFarlin is focusing on serving meals to those who truly need them. McFarlin scrutinizes U.S. Census maps to target geographic areas with high poverty rates.
Her team then applied this information to construct a plan for meal distribution points, allowing McFarlin and the Nutrition Services team to serve the families who need it most.
Debbie Updike, director of the Garden Valley School District in Idaho, is in a unique position to help more than just the district’s students. Updike and the nutrition team are reaching out to the entire community, serving meals to all in a time of need.
Candice Hagar, the director of Fort Wayne Community Schools, is serving breakfast and lunch to all children under the age of 18, regardless of whether a child is a student in the district.
Hagar and her nutrition team offer drive-thru services at each of their 30 elementary school sites daily, distributing one breakfast and one lunch for each child present.
Lori Danella of Lee’s Summit School District is distributing two meals in one pickup for parents where they get lunch and breakfast for the next day.
Danella and her team organize their meals by bag color; breakfast goes in brown bags and lunch goes in clear bags. They have also developed a contingency plan in case an employee becomes sick so that meals will continue, and virus spread is contained.
Many school nutrition departments only serve on weekdays, but Karisa Dennis and the nutrition team at Westerville City Schools had a different idea. They are serving meals each day of the week! These meals are delivered along 18 bus routes with 75 stops, all within a two-hour window. In addition, meals are also served at select school sites.
During these outstanding and overwhelming times, it’s important to show appreciation to those putting themselves at risk to help their communities. School nutrition departments always ensure children have daily meals, and they continue to do the same despite the risk.
Whether your family picks up free meals, take a minute to say thank you to the school nutrition department for your district. They deserve it.
Is there someone you’d like us to recognize as a School Lunch Hero? Message us on Facebook or comment below! We’d love to hear your stories.
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