While physically attending school has been defunct for school children for a few months, there have been school bus sightings around the lunch hour in most Kane County locations.

So what’s the deal? Lonely bus drivers...still trying to keep the school routine?

It turns out the Kane County School District, along with many school systems throughout America, are feeding the stay at home school children lunch. And, needless to say, in some impoverished homes, that healthy lunch might be the one main meal the school children will get.

Jamie Little, food service director for the entire Kane School District, said they have been serving 1100 kids a day free lunches. (Children under 18, which also includes preschool.)

Kane County is also pairing up with Fredonia, utilizing 20 helpers, 12 in Valley, one in Big Water and one in Lake Powell.

“The lunch staff prepares the food, teacher aides assemble the lunches, and then the bus drivers deliver them,” said Little, noting that Valley and Kanab have meeting spots for kids to pick up the lunches.

Little said the funds come from a federal program that the district applied for, and that parents in a tight economic environment are very grateful for. The parents signed up if they chose to.

So what’s on the menu? Orange chicken, chef’s salad, PBJ sandwiches and burritos. Yum!

The program will end when the school season is over this week, but we would like to thank the district, Little and all the working staff for keeping our children fed.

“I was proud that our lunch staff made everything from scratch. I don’t think any other school district does that. It was just really neat to see it all come together!” said Little.

 

Delivering school lunch in the Valley

Ever since the implementation of the COVID-19 Soft Closure on March 17, the agenda of Principal Brandon Jensen’s Valley Elementary School has been dramatically altered. Each week has begun with sixth-grade Student Body President Hogan Harris voicing “Alexa!” to play “The Star-Spangled Banner,” sequencing into announcements, weather and a philosophical “Quote of the Day” throughout their Zoom system links (compliments of South Central).

Initially, Lunch Room Manager Heidi Jacobs’ menu started out with providing meals for 24 students. But, with each passing week, demand rose: at first 34, then 125, 150, until finally 292! That’s when, following Spring Break on April 13, thanks to the Utah Food Bank and the U.S. Congress’s  stimulus package, they gained the capacity to include their program services on through to high-school seniors, free of charge.

Heidi’s well-designed daily diet of federally-mandated nutritional guidelines ranged from hamburgers and hot dogs, chicken strips, BBQ pork patties, deli sandwiches, or turkey ranch wraps, along with a variety of fruits and vegetables, milk, and treats such as home-made brownies and cookies.  

She typically arrives around 7 a.m. every morning to set-up dough for baking.  Between 7:30 and 8, other regulars Glenda Crofts, Sheena Ireland and Chris (“he does whatever we ask!”) Esplin join in to continue preparations. Librarian Lorie Hoyt and Andrea Spencer augment the original crew for completion of each individually-labeled bag for delivery.

Then around 11, loaded by Chris, and ready-to-roll, with teams having been recruited to assist the three usual route drivers in handling duties, they hit the road.  Media Lamb, Rochelle Eberly and Jamie Spencer cover Mount Carmel and Orderville; Mac Roundy, Christine Maxwell and Joshua Larmore have Glendale and Alton; while Pam Roundy and Colleen Chamberlain head up to Cedar Mountain. So, with lunches on their way, Heidi and company remain to finalize the next day’s prep-work before leaving for home around noon.

Heidi reminisces: “If I’da known that March 13 would’ve been the last day I was gonna feed these kids, and see them face-to-face, I don’t know that I’da done things different; I would’ve made sure that they...,” suspending briefly, “I just would’ve looked at them one more time; I just want ‘em to know that I try hard to make them happy!”

Media muses after her run: “ I just like bein’ able to see the kids. And it was fun tryin’ to have a little bit of normalcy.”