Meal packages serve students

Meal+packages+serve+students

By Nishka Avunoori, Staff Reporter

The Tredyffrin/Easttown School District has been offering meal packages for students eligible under the Seamless Summer Operation (SSO) COVID-19 waiver provided by the federal government and run in Pennsylvania by the state’s Department of Education.

The SSO COVID-19 waiver was provided to extend a summer program that granted meals to families who didn’t qualify for free and reduced-price school meals during COVID-19.

Food and Nutrition Services Supervisor David Preston has been leading the initiative since March.

“The intent of the program is to support those in need. Some families in need do not qualify for free and reduced lunch due to their income, yet they are still struggling due to loss of income because business is down in many areas,” Preston said. 

The district first started doing meal packages in March for students who were eligible for free and reduced-price school meals and have continued to modify the operation throughout the summer and fall due to increased participation.

Families had a choice to opt-in for meal packages by filling out a survey in order for cafeteria workers to adequately prepare and assemble the meals. Virtual students are eligible for five lunches and breakfasts each week, while hybrid students are eligible for three lunches and three breakfasts.

Jeanne Braun, coordinator of community and volunteer services for the district, has assisted families with any questions or concerns they may have regarding the program.

“Our amazing food service workers, the cafeteria staff, in all eight schools are preparing them, and they are working really hard gearing up for Wednesday pickup.” Braun said. “Sometimes people can’t pick up the meals, and we will deliver the meals; we just don’t want there to be any barriers between the need and the solution.”  

Food service workers prepare hundreds of packages per week, including bags of perishable, frozen and shelf-stable items. Breakfast and lunch consist of an entrée, fruit, vegetable and milk. The meals are then picked up from Conestoga at the bus circle.

Preston says he is thankful for his staff’s dedication and hard work in preparing the packages. 

“Members of our team are certified food handlers to ensure proper food handling,” Preston said. “Many of us work 13 hours on Wednesday of each week to ensure no student goes hungry. We are honored to make a difference.” 

Braun believes that as a district, it is their responsibility to make sure they can help families in the area, especially if anyone is experiencing any financial hardship. 

“This is one piece, one really important piece, about the efforts to help families. I’ve been involved since March in the whole community effort for our families, and there’s been so much generosity.” said Braun. “It’s all a coordinated effort by so many people of the district.”

The program will continue to serve families until June 30, 2020. Meals will continue to be picked up from the bus circle at ’Stoga throughout the school year.