School Business Affairs July-August 2020

36 JULY/AUGUST 2020 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS Feeding—and loving—students in the midst of a pandemic. Love in a Brown Paper Bag By Lesley Burton B eing situated in a large primary school in a challenging area of deprivation, our children’s bellies are always a priority to me and I am a self-confessed “school meal bore.” When the announcement came that the government would be closing schools to all children but those of key workers, my first priority was how we would supply a meal to the free school meal children on our roll. I met with the catering manager and the site manager, who share my intrinsic desire to ensure none of our children go hungry, and together we devised a plan. Our cater- ing staff would prepare a packed lunch for every child and our site manager and his wife would deliver them to each house. There were over 90 meals to prepare and deliver and the distance between the houses was vast but the needs of the children were the priority. So off we went on Day 1 with 90+ packed lunches loaded into our bus. Each one con- sisting of a sandwich, a piece of fruit, and a freshly made homebake, and we’re still doing the same on Day 36! We still love them and we will be waiting for them once all this nightmare is over. When the Department for Education voucher scheme was launched, we discussed it at length but decided against it and that we would carry on with what we were doing for one big reason: our children. The children who stand waiting in the windows to wave to our staff. The children who put thank you posters in their windows. The children who cheer when they see the staff walking up the path. The children who need to see that during this strange and difficult time, we are still here for them. We still love them and we will be waiting for them once all this nightmare is over. As adults, we feel anxious over the uncer- tainty and change of routine and structure but it must be a million times worse if you are eight years old and school is your safe place and then suddenly you cannot go anymore. It might just be a butty to some but it’s a lifeline to others. Our packed lunch deliveries serve as far more than a butty (sandwich) in a bag. They are a welfare check. Our families know that once they hear the knock on the door, we need them to wave through the window to let us know they are ok. They know that we are there for them, as always, if they need us. From this we can keep records so that we all know these families are doing ok. As a school business leader, I have never been more proud of my team. Their love for our children has never shone so brightly. It might just be a butty to some but it’s a life- line to others. Lesley Burton is school business leader for St. John’s CE Primary School in Bradford, Yorkshire, England. This article is adapted from her April 28, 2020 ISBL blog. IN-A-BROWN-PAPER-BAG.aspx FROM THE FIELD EXCLUSIVE-DESIGN/STOCK.ADOBE.COM