The hallways are silent. The buses have stopped bussing. The roar of students in your cafeterias during lunch is now an eerie quiet, only perhaps interrupted by a skeleton food services staff that is now tasked with serving meals to all in need in their community.
A lot has changed over the past 30 days. Extended spring break has turned into a cancellation of the rest of school year. For many students, they won’t finish that spring project, or get to play their spring sports, and for some, they won’t get to go to their prom or walk across the stage as a graduate. These are unprecedented times, indeed.
In many districts, food service is the only department tied to the facilities and truly essential to keeping the youth in this country fed. The challenges set before you are hurdles we couldn’t have imagined even 90 days ago, but here we are.
You are asking yourself many questions:
- How can I set-up an effective curbside pick-up program?
- Does the USDA know how I’m supposed to track these meals?
- I know this student doesn’t go to our district, do they get a meal anyway?
- How to you label allergies with a curbside meal?
- What do I do with all this other food in my district that isn’t conducive to a grab and go service?
- How do I keep my staff safe when they’re handing out meals to hundreds of people’s vehicles?
- What do I need to do to keep track of my operation’s inventory and production in this meal service?
- How is having zero ala carte sales going to impact my budget for next year?
- What can I have my staff that is working remotely work on to help our program come next fall?
- How long are we expected to perform this role of community feeding site?
This is just a small list of the questions many of you are facing as we brave through this crisis. Learning from other districts during this time can be challenging. The task at hand is not an easy one. Rarely, if ever, has more been asked of our school food services departments. And one by one, we learn of amazing individuals and teams that have risen to the challenge and gone above and beyond the call of duty to provide to those that need it most.
We’re here to help. Over the next few days, we’ve gathered data from our districts around the country, and from the USDA, to help you answer some of the questions above. In doing so, we hope that you can continue to be the beacon in your community that is on the front lines and assisting those most affected by this crisis and come out on the other end with a stronger, more robust, food service program.