Upon receiving the phone call on March 13, 2020 notifying schools were canceled until further notice because of COVID-19, Food Services Director Lisa Dorris knew her staff would have to adapt.
Dorris knew that 3,500 students in the district would be in need of food during the school closure and they would need to develop a plan. “I knew it would not be financially feasible for us to run the busses every day for meals,” Dorris said, “so we started our conversation with the state about delivering multiple meals on one day.”
During the shutdown, Dorris said her staff experienced problems with food distributors. “There was a lot of food we could not get like pre-made sandwiches.” At that point, Dorris knew they had freezers full of food and turned to those in this time of need. “We decided to use the food in the freezers that we designated for the rest of the school year and distribute those meals in one gallon Ziploc bags,” Dorris said, “The meals were all precooked and amounted to five lunch entrees and breakfasts along with fruit juices and milk.”
Mornings began around 5:30 a.m. for the staff and would continue throughout the day preparing meals. Dorris said, “You could go into any of the lunch rooms and all the tables would be full of these packages we were giving to the students.”
In total, the Food Services staff distributed over 330,000 meals between 52 bus routes and two drive thru locations at Suwannee High School and Branford Elementary School. “Not only were they making meals, they were having to keep up with paper work and make sure it was done right by the rules and regulations. I cannot sing their praises enough,” says Dorris.
As of June 1, 2020, Food Services will only be doing drive thru locations for food pickup at SHS and BES. Times will be from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Mondays and students will receive 5 breakfasts and lunches.