In March, when schools were closed and uncertainty filled the hearts of the community, Director of Food Service Sherri Reed and her amazing team worked endlessly to prepare meals for the children.
The food staff members at Fredericktown R-I are used to feeding students every day. When the meals turned into to-go style, it was a challenge, but they knew they were up to it.
Reed said between March 18 and May 15 they served 33,610 meals to the youth of the community. With their highest day totaling 1,238 meals.
"In the beginning we had to adjust to working out of one kitchen, preparing all the meals, bagging them and also boxing them in their appropriate 'bus boxes' to ensure the correct amount was put on the right bus for that particular route," Reed said. "We did all of this by 11 a.m. every day."
Reed said there were several different check off lists to ensure nothing was missed and all ingredients made it into each bag.
"I will admit we were stressed for the first few days due to the unknown," Reed said. "How many meals to prepare was our biggest obstacle. We always had plenty, but a cooks worst fear is running out of food."
Reed said the staff that was working were very supportive of the undertaking.
"We received tremendous support from the district as well as the community," Reed said. "When the buses were running we had staff and administrative volunteers riding along to hand out the meals at every stop. The kids would get so excited to see someone from their school."
Reed said, when they could no longer run the buses due to safety concerns, members of the community volunteered to deliver meals to those students that may not of had means to use the pick up system.
"We see on a daily basis how important it is that the students get a nutritious breakfast and lunch," Reed said. "It was very satisfying to know that the students who were served every day were still getting the same hot and healthy meals as they were at school."
Reed said her favorite lunch to serve was the "school pizza" because it was always a meal the students would get excited about.
"We we heard numerous stories of how kids were excited to see the bus coming everyday to deliver their school meals," Reed said. "We would talk in the kitchen and wonder how the students were doing through all of the changes and we would start missing them."
Reed said, in a regular setting, the kitchen staff member is sometimes the first person a student sees.
"It is our job to give them a smile and welcome them to school," Reed said. "Not just to feed them."
Reed said, although she was not able to utilize all of the R-I food staff during the last two months due to various restrictions, she wants to thank all of them for their hard work and dedication this year and in years past. She said she does not say that to them often enough.
"I would like to give a heart felt thank you to all of the people that helped make this undertaking possible during these last two months," Reed said. "A special thank you goes to the staff that worked our 'pick up' area and to all the volunteers. You made our job easier."
Superintendent Brett Reutzel said Reed and her staff have been amazing. He said their hard work and dedication to feeding the community youth has not gone unrecognized.
"I want to thank Sherri (Reed) for being able to adapt in these uncertain times," Reutzel said. "Every challenge she faced she conquered. The district and the community are very lucky to have her as part of our team."
Assistant Superintendent Chadd Starkey said, during this challenging time he never heard a negative word from Reed or her team.
"I want to send a big thank you to Sherri Reed and our food service workers who have continued to answer the call during these uncertain times," Starkey said. "They have provided our students with thousands of meals during the time that school has been closed."
"On behalf of the Fredericktown School Board we would like to give Sherri Reed and her staff a huge thank you for their dedication and hard work," Board President Richard Allgier said. "It's times like these that remind us just how blessed our district is with such amazing people."
Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Democrat News. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at email@example.com
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