School Business Affairs November 2020

8 NOVEMBER 2020 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS FOCUS ON WELLNESS Food Services in a Pandemic— Remote Feeding to Scratch Cooking School district food services departments around the country turned on a dime to ensure students are receiving nutritious meals throughout the summer and into the fall. By Allison Ildefonso T here’s no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the face of school food. When schools across America closed their doors in March, food service teams stepped up to make sure children—and in some cases, communities—were fed. As many districts were gearing up for spring break, others, within 24–48 hours, turned around an emergency feeding plan. Few anticipated the long-term effects of a virus that had shut down the nation in a matter of days. Quick Turnaround and Complex Considerations One of the biggest challenges that districts faced at the start of the pandemic was discovering how to quickly transition their food program to remote feeding. This situation was a first for everyone and available resources were limited at the time. Many food service directors believed the closures would last for two or three weeks, with the possibility of an extension. “This has to be the most stressful situation I have ever endured due to the unknowns,” says Lori Danella , food service director at Lee’s Sum- mit R7 School District in Kansas City, Missouri. “So many families and students rely on us for food, and we are going to do whatever it takes to get them fed.” Lori Danella Sharon Schaefer, director of nutrition services for Gretna Public Schools in Nebraska, prepares for family meal pickup. ANNA REED, OMAHA WORLD HERALD