Guardsmen help distribute meals to Cameron kids
With the Cameron School District food staff preparing more than 4,000 meals each week, the Missouri National Guard joined the effort Monday.
Inside the Cameron High School cafeteria soldiers formed an assembly line Monday as they prepared more than 800 meals for delivery to area students and plan to stay through the end on the school year May 15.
“It hits home because it’s close to the community. Child hunger is across the nation and we’re just trying to help children and teenagers that rely on this meal for breakfast and lunch to sustain,” 1138 Transport Company Staff Sgt. Christopher Stultz said.
Stultz said the 1138 Company received a warm welcome when they arrived in Cameron. With the unit based in St. Louis, many of the soldiers preparing meals found the small-town life peaceful.
“They love it. A lot of them don’t get to do this on a daily basis. It gets them out of their realm, away from the city. A lot of them have never been in a small town like Cameron,” Stultz said. “They are enjoying it. They enjoy the hospitality of the town. When they go to Walmart, they’re greeted and people say high. It’s different than in a big city. They’re enjoying it and love being out here. They’re eager to work, get the job done and move onto the next mission.”
The 1138 Transport Company’s arrival seems well timed with the end of the school year just a week away. Before their arrival, teachers and other district staff members volunteered to prepare the meals despite already being inundated with teaching this year’s curriculum under unprecedented circumstances. Thanks to the 1138’s efforts, district food and nutrition director Donna Frazier said teachers can now make student education their top priority.
“The guard traditionally always helps during a disaster … They decided we were deserving of some national guard help,” Frazier said. “This has allowed the teachers to go back in the classroom and put the education of the children first. As a result, that has left us shorthanded so the national guard just showed up at the right time. We’re lucky in the United States that we train our military to be thinkers along with being protectors. They know how to think, figure things out and work hard. We’re very blessed to have them.”
Frazier said the district currently serves 825 meals per day, down 100 meals from the program’s peak in April. With current operations ceasing after the school year, she said the staff is working on extending service as part of the summer food program but will need to further study the logistics and other details before making a formal announcement.