This School Lunch Hero Day – And Every Day – No Kid Hungry Maryland Celebrates School Nutrition Staff
It’s a heartwarming, inspiring picture amidst an otherwise difficult time. Hunger Heroes have been getting free meals to kids for over a year with smiling faces under masks, some wearing costumes on theme days or dancing as cars pull through the distribution line. In rain, snow, and hot, humid weather, they’re at school and community sites to hand over a heavy bag full of three meals a day for two days, three days, or even a full week. The kids and caregivers wave cheerfully and offer sincere thanks for this the meals, which have become even more critical during this crisis.
For more than a year, dedicated school nutrition teams in Maryland’s school systems and around the country have been addressing the growing need of hunger resulting from the COVID pandemic. As students head back to the classroom in varying numbers, they hand out breakfast as students walk through the door, and deliver lunch to students’ desks in classrooms and socially- distanced seating in the cafeteria. Wearing their Hunger Hero t-shirts with pride, they produce and distribute thousands of meals across Maryland.
Here’s what you don’t see: Hunger Heroes walking 31 miles in 5 days to deliver meals to classrooms. The Food and Nutrition Director sprinting down an elementary school hallway alongside her team, with just two minutes to get from dropping meals in the last classroom to delivering meals curbside to virtual learners. FNS Directors and school leaders working nights and weekends to do their “normal” work because they spent the week distributing meals in schools. You don’t see school nutrition teams pitching in over the weekend to make more meals because hundreds were ruined when a refrigerator broke. Or the staff hurrying back to the kitchen to assemble more grab and go meals because more kids than they expected showed up in need of nutritious food. The frustration that comes with the nearly impossible task of adapting their programs, often overnight, as school systems change their schedules and individual schools temporarily shut down temporarily.
They are exhausted and oftentimes worried about what the future holds. But each and every Hunger Hero I’ve talked to has told me it’s worth it for their kiddos. It has been a serious challenge for FNS departments to continue to serve meals during the pandemic, but they have done it because: “It’s all about the kids,” “we can’t let any child go without food,” and “no kid should go hungry at any time.”
For No Kid Hungry, School Lunch Hero Day isn’t just one day— we’re thankful for the commitment and compassion the Food and Nutrition Staff across Maryland demonstrate each and every day. We hope you’ll join us in celebrating these dedicated essential workers.
About No Kid Hungry
No child should go hungry in America. But 1 in 7 kids will face hunger this year. No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger through effective programs that provide kids with the food they need. This is a problem we know how to solve. No Kid Hungry is a campaign of Share Our Strength, an organization working to end hunger and poverty. Join us at NoKidHungry.org