Keeping them fed… It’s all a labor of love for Elizabethton City School personnel

Published 1:17 am Tuesday, March 31, 2020

With a steady stream of cars pulling into line on Monday at Eastside Elementary to pick up lunches for students around the noon hour, Eastside Principal Travis Hurley and T.A. Dugger Assistant Principal Jason Carter were working more like a WWE tag team the way they were bouncing from the school to the sidewalk with bag after bag of hot meals in one effortless motion.
And it was easy to tell that neither one was bothered by having to do the task at hand especially with all the thank you’s they were receiving when handing the bags into the vehicles.
The two men were doing their part to ensure that students that normally might not have anything to eat otherwise were at least getting something warm in their bellies as the City School system along with all the other schools throughout Tennessee enters the third week of being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The school system had been providing two pickups – one in the morning for breakfast and one in the afternoon for lunch, but starting today, Tuesday, March 31, there will only be one pickup between 11:30-12:30 where students will receive the day’s hot meal and also will be given breakfast for the following morning as well.
Changes were brought about in an effort to make sure that families weren’t having to make two trips daily to the school to pick up the meals. Also, the lunch pickup had been going better than breakfast so hopes were that kids would have food in the event of missing their breakfast pickup.
“Since we have started it has grown,” said Hurley on Monday between deliveries. “The Friday before Spring Break we served right at 130 kids meals here at Eastside on the 20th so that was our largest number of the day for lunches.
“Breakfast has not been as many as we had hoped. About 20-25 every day for breakfast.”
Carter added, “That is why we are trying to serve our breakfast and lunch together to try and get more families to come by.”
Hurley also looks at the feeding program as a way of keeping in touch with his students to make sure they are doing OK as well as encouraging them to stay on top of their online studies and student packs.
“That is why I enjoy serving the food is that I can see the kids and interact with them which is my favorite part of the job here,” Hurley said with a smile. “I asked every kid if they have been keeping up with their work online this morning and every one of them has responded they have.
“I have reached out to every teacher to make sure that they are reaching out to their kids every day and they are. Of course, I didn’t expect anything different from our Eastside teachers because they are amazing and it just puts another spotlight on Eastside teachers and how amazing they are as they accomplish things that we get accomplished.”
“It’s really great to hear the things that they are doing,” Hurley continued. “They think of things even way better than I do on how they are reaching out to their students using Zoom, Fast Dojo, and Google classroom. A lot of parents have said they really appreciate how much interaction the kids have had with the teachers when we had to start this.”
With changes still being made daily by local, state, and national officials on the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a lot of uncertainty on things going forward including the meals being provided to students.
Hurley, for one, hopes that a way will be made to ensure students will still be fed.
“I hope that we will continue to feed our students,” said Hurley. “That is a big thing for me is that our kids are going to eat and if they don’t eat they are not going to do their schoolwork and the things they need to be doing so I hope it becomes an essential but I understand with what’s going on, it has to be what is the best for everybody.”
Hurley added that the meal program was a way for parents to make sure their children are fed while supplementing their food at home and hopefully extend the life of their pantries so they would have their food supply to last longer.

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