Feathers reflects on emergency feeding during COVID, summer program to begin

Published 4:37 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2020

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The cafeteria was empty at Hunter Elementary School on Tuesday. Tables that would usually be filled with children contained packaged meal boxes instead.
Lindsey Feathers, Director of School Nutrition, described that the staff who have been in charge of packing these boxes had finished early, something rare for the usually busy preparation for the following day. Since school closures due to COVID-19, students have been fed through an emergency feeding program, receiving five days worth of food on Monday and Wednesday each week from noon to 1 p.m.
This emergency feeding program is set to end on Wednesday, May 20, and be followed by the summer feeding program beginning on June 1.
“Emergency feeding was during school closures, and the last day of emergency feeding is May 20,” said Feathers. “But then we will take the week of Memorial Day off, and then start summer feeding. This is set to begin June 1 and last until June 29.”
Feathers said the real difference in the two programs is time, and they’re really just trying to separate the two. Emergency feeding is throughout the school year.
The programs are similar in other aspects with any child under 18, regardless of income, being able to receive food, and meals for five days being given out on Monday and Wednesday at the same times as before. Pickup will also be at the same locations as before, with the exception of Happy Valley Elementary School due to construction. Kids in that area are more than welcome at other sites. Flexibility remains intact with parents able to pick up food even without kids in the car.
Feathers described the difference this summer’s feeding program has compared to previous years.
“Usually in the summer months we do a lunch and literacy bus where we go throughout our county and we use our bus to deliver meals, and have the children to pick out a book,” she said. “But this year we have decided to cancel the program due to COVID-19 risks and exposures, so we decided to hold off on that.”
Standing in the middle of the empty cafeteria, Feathers went on to talk about their food supply, which is harder to utilize.
“It is getting harder,” she said. “Manufacturers are having trouble with some of the demand. So they may have discontinued some of the items that we’ve used, or they’ve had to cut back and maybe concentrate on some of the other flavors. Right now we have been able to utilize commodities.”
While things are getting harder, no child will be turned away, and Feathers has said they will have enough for anyone in need.
To everyone who has helped, she wanted to say thank you.
“We appreciate everyone that has helped with emergency feeding, from our school nutrition staff, to our volunteers, to school board members, to county commissioners, we’ve had just an overwhelming response to help with our program.”
Like Feathers, Kevin Ward, director of schools, wanted to also give thanks. He wanted to thank Feathers, Diana Duncan and the food service cooks for the job they have done in food preparations during this time. He also extended thanks to the principals, teachers and volunteers in helping feed kids as well.
Approximately 122,000 meals have been served in this program since March 18.
For the latest updates on Carter County Schools, you can go to www.carterk12.net, or check out their Facebook page.

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