Metz Culinary Management thanked all of its on-site catering employees for their efforts to feed children in the area during the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday, National School Lunch Heroes Day.
When schools closed last March at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the first concern of many local districts was not necessarily virtual learning, but rather providing food to dependent children in their schools for breakfast. and lunch. In the wake of rising unemployment due to COVID-19 closures and schools closed to in-person learning, food insecurity among children was on the rise.
Food insecurity was a concern in the Crestwood School District.
“We closed on a government order on Friday and on Monday Metz was ready to start feeding the children in the district in a very non-traditional way,” said Robert Mehalick, superintendent of the Crestwood school district. “We had decided that we were going to do this as a school district whether we were reimbursed or not, because it was so important to the health and well-being of our community.”
Feeding school children during the pandemic has become a top priority for the Metz K-12 division. Metz is the food service provider for many local school districts including Crestwood, Dallas, Danville, Hanover Area, Lake Lehman, and Nanticoke. They have prepared and locally distributed 744,176 meals for students from the start of the pandemic until March 2021, and more than a million more in the districts they serve in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
“Within days, our team quickly developed plans, working with each partner in the school district, and following all established COVID guidelines, to prepare and distribute meals to all students,” said Jim Dickson, senior vice president education and corporate catering. Divisions for Metz .. “It involved teamwork from Metz and many school district partners, from superintendents and directors to business leaders, and many other school staff. We were all working towards a common goal: ensuring children’s food security through nutritious meals provided through flexible and responsive distribution programs.
David Feller, senior regional director of Metz Culinary Management at the Crestwood School District, said his staff went above and beyond to ensure children across the district were fed. They started take-out meals for any child 18 and under in the district on March 16, 2020 and haven’t stopped. In the spring of last year, in addition to serving meals in a drive-thru area set up on school grounds, Metz staff in Crestwood also distributed meals to children at a local library and d ‘a local fire department.
“New plans were developed for each district using an approach that met the individual needs of the district by feeding their students,” Dickson said. “Plans have changed almost weekly to meet the changing needs of students on distance learning schedules and to deal with school closures due to COVID outbreaks. Throughout all of the changes, our goal has remained the same: to ensure that nutritious meals reach all children. “
“This was only possible because of the commitment of our Metz school lunch heroes and so many people in the different school districts who worked together to make the meal distribution program work,” Dickson added. “I am so proud of our team members who came to work, braving the virus, to help ensure greater food security for children in our community. They really put their lives on the line to serve others.