By Crystal Burns
Lisa Seiber-Garland, Food Service director for the Trenton Special School District, gets emotional talking about her cafeteria staff.
“They could sit at home and get paid,” Seiber-Garland said, watching as several women wrapped sandwiches, organized to-go boxes, and carried deliveries out of Trenton Elementary School on Wednesday morning. “They’re here because they love the kids.”
The statewide emergency feeding program is helping local school districts continue to feed students while schools remain shut down due to the COVID-19 health crisis. Seiber-Garland said Trenton served almost 3,200 meals on a recent Wednesday, a day in which they give and deliver three days’ worth of breakfast and lunch food to children 18 and under.
Students or their families can pick up meals at TES Monday and Wednesday from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Volunteers, staff members, and bus drivers drop off meals at Lynnhurst Terrace, Booker Holmes, Bishop Martin-Phelan Center, Rolling Meadows, Green Acres, and Crockett Manor between 8 and 8:15 a.m. those days. They also deliver meals to local fast food restaurants, grocery stores, and other workplaces for the children of those essential employees as well as student workers.
“We try to get all of them that we can,” Seiber-Garland said. “I’ve got people going out even in the country. They are dedicated. I’m really proud of them. They have worked so hard.”
Children do not have to attend TSSD or be present to receive the meals, which include all the components of the reimbursable meals that students receive at school, so they are getting fresh fruits, vegetables, juice, and milk. Workers also include treats such as individual bags of chips. They try to prepare at least one hot meal on each pick-up/delivery day.
Seiber-Garland noted that about 70% of the TSSD student population receive free and reduced lunch at school. She recently secured a grant that will provide a full week’s worth of frozen meals shipped to students’ homes. She’s also working on grant funding for summer feeding programs.
Seiber-Garland said that the governor’s order for emergency feeding includes a waiver through June 30, so she hopes to continue feeding students beyond May 22, which would have been the last day of semester had students returned to school.
“They’re going to need it more and more,” Seiber-Garland said.
If your child isn’t receiving meals or you know a child that needs meals, please contact Seiber-Garland at 731-487-2914.