Hunger Heroes in the Face of COVID-19: Schenectady City School District
In Schenectady, New York, the hardworking staff at the school nutrition department have focused on feeding kids the food they need during the pandemic, while also keeping meals fun and exciting. When the pandemic began, the food service department quickly created a meal delivery program to reach kids at their homes. Now that many students are back in the classrooms, Elaine Reynolds, District Food Service Manager, has shifted the department operations to serve grocery-style meal boxes with seven days of food in each box.
Elaine and her team know that it’s also important to create a sense of fun within the district, especially when kids and families were only seeing teachers and other school staff via online classes. She and her team, which includes members of the food service management company Sodexo, started monthly pop-up meal events centered around holidays and other kid-friendly themes. In October, the team put together a Halloween feast, and in November, everyone who came to the school site received a hot turkey dinner in addition to their meals for the week. Some months, the team included surprise treats for the families outside of the reimbursable meals, like a sprinkle sugar cookie, to bring joy and excitement to district families.
Now that it has been getting warmer, the team has created new themes to embrace the springtime weather. The April theme was an on-site barbeque, complete with the county’s Dairy Princess who passed out fruit and yogurt smoothies. To add to the fun of the event, every student who picked up a free 7-day meal box was entered into a drawing to win a bike and helmet. For each pop-up event, all school building staff and district families are invited so that kids and school staff can see each other in a socially-distanced, outdoor environment while eating nutritious meals.
In the near future, the food service department will continue to serve families in the district in creative and engaging ways through their new refrigerated food truck. This truck, partially funded through a grant from No Kid Hungry NY, will help overcome transportation challenges in the district as well as provide fresh produce to families across Schenectady.
These stories are mirrored in communities across New York and throughout the nation. No Kid Hungry New York is grateful to all the hunger heroes who have worked throughout the COVID-19 crisis to feed kids in their communities. Their dedication and tireless work have ensured that kids have the nutritious meals they need to grow up healthy and strong.
About No Kid Hungry
No child should go hungry in America. But in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, 1 in 5 kids in New York could face hunger. No Kid Hungry New York is working to end childhood hunger by helping launch and improve programs that give all kids the healthy food they need to thrive. This is a problem we know how to solve. No Kid Hungry New York is a campaign of Share Our Strength, an organization committed to ending hunger and poverty. Join us at NoKidHungry.org