Frontline: LTUSD delivering thousands of meals during crisis
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The Lake Tahoe Unified School District food service and transportation departments are going above and beyond their duties to make sure students are fed during the coronavirus crisis.
“We had to hit the ground running,” said LTUSD Director of Food Service Tammy Miller about the district’s reaction to the education being transitioned to distance learning.
According to Miller, 57% of the students in the district receive free or reduced meals.
“We provide breakfast and lunch for those kids in school but while they’re out of school, a lot of them aren’t being fed,” Miller said.
So Miller had the food service department immediately start putting together bagged meals and enlisted the help of the transportation department to get the meals to students.
“We were on board,” said Transportation Supervisor Christy Blach.
Bus drivers deliver food to bus stops in highly populated parts of town every weekday morning for 15 minutes. They then go to four different school sites where they hand out food from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
According to Blach, her team hands out 500-600 meals a day.
The food is available for any students aged 18 or younger, not just to students who receive free or reduced meals.
Students can pick up their own meals or parents can do it for the students.
The transportation department gives their drivers masks and gloves to protect themselves and the students and parents.
“The kids come up very respectfully, one at a time,” Blach said.
Miller said because the initiative started so quickly, they started with easy meals such as sandwiches. Now that they are getting in the groove, the high school cafeteria team is going to start preparing food that can be reheated at home, such as burgers or chicken tenders, to give the meals more variety.
While this benefits parents and students, this also keeps staff employed who might not be working because of campuses being closed.
Blach said she has nine to 11 bus drivers working everyday and both the food service and transportation department are continuing to work through spring break.
Ultimately though, this is about the students.
“Many of our students’ parents are being laid off,” Miller said. “If they aren’t getting paychecks, they will have difficulty feeding their students. We’re just trying to alleviate one more worry.”
Blach said she’s impressed with how quickly the district reacted.
“We have a really good team and it’s so rewarding to do this for the community,” Blach said. “I’m so grateful for food service and the directors for how smoothly the transition went.”
Other groups in the community are also stepping up to fill in the gaps the district can’t fill. Bread and Broth and Boys and Girls Club are also providing meals to people in the community.
To see the schedule for food pick up or to read about other changes to education, visit the coronavirus tab on the LTUSD website.
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