KCS Food Service are heroes during COVID

Kearsley Food Service are heroes during COVID
Posted on 03/26/2021
Kearsley Food Service employees serve lunches during COVIDWithin 72 hours of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s order to close Michigan schools on March 12, 2020, Kearsley Community Schools Food Service and 100 volunteers made up of staff and community members began work on a food distribution plan that would ensure all Kearsley students had their nutritional needs met during the district-wide shut down.

By the end of the same month – more than 68,000 meals had been delivered. And in the past year, more than half a million meals have been served: 534,789 exactly.

Assistant Superintendent Paul Gaudard called the food service and security teams “true heroes of the pandemic.”

“As the pandemic raged last spring and with most of the country locked down, our food service team sprang into action,” he said. “They reported to work each and every day to help prepare and distribute meals for our Kearsley families.  With so many uncertainties surrounding them, our staff helped ensure Kearsley students and families could count on nutritious meals each week. By serving over a half million meals in the last year, our food service and security team have truly been our heroes of the pandemic.”

Christina Mascorro, Kearsley Food Service Director said the work began immediately after the closure announcement. Monday morning, March 16, 2020, meals were being created and packed and they were passed out on Tuesday and Thursday.

In the early weeks, volunteers joined the school’s 13-person food service staff to assist with making the healthy meals, packing them on buses, and issuing the meals to the community from four distribution sites: two area mobile home parks, Fiedler Elementary and the Kearsley High School.

But the COVID-19 numbers continued to climb so in April, the decision was made to trim down the number of volunteers, and distribute meals directly one day a week, from two locations: the high school and Pineview Homes.

The food service staff, and a handful of staff members, continued to make, pack and distribute the meals. By early summer, the program was opened to all children under the age of 18 in the community, whether or not they were students in Kearsley Community Schools.

The difficulty of providing that many meals was made easier by the USDA free meal waivers, a program that has recently been extended through this summer.

Jim Duplanty, Kearsley Schools Security, was one of the staff members who has continued to work with the food distribution since the beginning. Duplanty said he found the program rewarding and worthwhile.

In charge of keeping the cars lined up and orderly when they arrive at the high school for their pickup, Duplanty said he’s enjoyed every minute, even the bad weather. But particularly getting a chance to chat with so many as they wait.
“I developed a relationship with a lot of them, just chatting while they were in line,” he said. “Sure, we had a few bad days weather-wise, but mostly it was tolerable. There was usually a long line of cars at the beginning, but it would thin out and then be consistent till the end. But it’s been so worthwhile and rewarding. Having a chance to help people with something so important, you can tell it’s something they really appreciate.”
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