Nutrition services

School nutrition services face the challenges of the pandemic | Local News

Since last March, nutrition services at schools in Hardin County and independent schools in Elizabethtown have adapted to help feed students.

Hardin County Schools Nutrition Services Director Josey Crew said when schools closed in March 2020, Nutrition Services had about 48 hours to create a new plan.

The crew said the main thing they needed to think about was how to feed the students and ensure their safety and that of the staff.

From there, they developed a way for families to get street side meals every day without any contact. In order to reach more students, they have also started using school buses to deliver meals to certain locations for eligible families in need.

Marty Adams, director of nutrition services at Elizabethtown Independent Schools, said on one day’s notice that nutrition services needed to rethink everything they do for students.

While virtually all students were learning at the start of the pandemic, districts have arranged delivery services to several locations in the county for meals.

At the start of the 2020-21 school year, students began attending schools in person, opening school cafeterias. Schools in Hardin County instituted a five-day elementary and middle school program on March 22, and E’town instituted a five-day program, Monday through Thursday, March 15.

HCS has started offering take-out meals for students even when they are not at school.

Currently, the neighborhood still adheres to certain cafeteria practices and guidelines.

At the HCS, service lines are no longer self-service, which means cafeteria workers provide food to students instead of helping them themselves. Students also eat in classrooms to help with social distancing, but students still eat in other school areas as well.

“I’m going to tell you that each school does a little different with the procedure, depending on their enrollment and how they can feed themselves in the classroom,” Crew said.

Currently, E’town schools still do breakfast and lunch with students who eat in classrooms or gymnasiums. The meals are packaged in take-out bags, but Adams said the bags contain hot meals. These bags are collected by staff members and delivered to students in their classrooms.

Adams said they always do mobile sites on Fridays for breakfast and lunch. Curbside meals are also always available on Fridays at school.

She said cafeteria workers lack interaction with students due to the way it is currently formatted, and she said they were delighted the cafeterias were once again filled with students.

For Crew, she said the finances had been the hardest part of the past year. Students do not eat as much, this impacts them since they are not reimbursed for these meals.

She also said food costs were higher last year as well, but Crew said the budget was healthy.

“We haven’t been able to do some of the things we’ve done in the past, some menu items or even some repairs to the equipment,” Crew said. “It has been a challenge, but things are improving now. “

Adams said the biggest challenge for Eizabethtown’s independent schools is dealing with the changing guidelines and plans that have occurred throughout the year. Adams said they were also having issues with suppliers as they were also affected by the pandemic. However, she said the staff in the nutrition services had done a good job.

Overall, Adams said that a positive exit from the pandemic is learning to adapt and being able to appreciate yourself more.

“They just stepped up, they did what they had to do and they did an amazing job,” Adams said.

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