Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Anita Reed and other Cassville food service employees prepare meals, one lunch and the next day’s breakfast, for the district’s students Mondays through Fridays. Contributed photo

Cassville adapts to crisis meal service

Over the weeks surrounding the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the topic of food insecurity has been a focus, and communities, schools and organizations have adapted and adjusted to better serve their patrons.

Cassville school district immediately put a plan into action to provide meals — one lunch, one breakfast and a snack — to its students each weekday.

Cassville cafeteria staff members Kari Arndt, Jackie Moore and Kristina Davis-Arndt work to fill the lunches and breakfasts for students. Contributed photo

Dusty Reid, Cassville schools’ director of facilities and operations, said the school has 16 cafeteria staff and a food service director.

“We created two groups of eight that alternate each week,” he said. “The idea is to keep them separated, and in the event that a food service employee contracts coronavirus, we have the other team which has been isolated to take over.”

The “Black and Gold” teams show not only the district’s school spirit throughout this event, but also the care and focus on its students’ safety.

Cassville food service employees, like Kristina Davis-Arndt, Tiffany Davis and Tammy Tucker, prepare, package and hand-deliver meals for the students Mondays through Fridays. Contributed photo

“This will prevent us from having to shut down the entire program,” he said. “We started this method of two teams on the third day of operation under the circumstances. Once everyone came in and worked a day or two, we saw how we would be handling things and how to adjust.”

Reid said it was an all-hands-on-deck type of situation.

“We were taking in all ideas and input,” he said. “We did the same with the custodian and maintenance staff.”

Cassville food service employee Nancy Horner, takes orders to be filled for the meal service the district is offering to its students. Contributed photo

Reid admires the staff for coming in each day with great attitudes.

“The food service employees come in with new ideas on how to prepare and package food,” he said. “Each school is doing things differently. We are doing what we think is best for our students with the resources we have.”

Reid said he believes that continuing to offer meals to its students is the most important thing schools can be doing right now.

“Under normal circumstances, we have a certain number of students that don’t have the proper nutrients at home,” he said. “Now, in this more dire situation, we are trying to fill the basic needs.”

The response from the community regarding the school handling of the food resources has been positive.

“It is using the same funding from the USDA we operate summer school from,” he said. “Some of the rules that typically apply have been waived. Like, usually, we have to see the students and hand the meal to them personally, but now, they are allowing to give the meals to the parents even if the student is not present.”

Additionally, under normal circumstances, the school cannot go off-site, but now, they are being allowed to provide meals in Eagle Rock, Golden, Jenkins and Butterfield.

“Right now, that funding will get us through June 30,” Reid said.

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