Help is on the way
Although away from classes, the Cameron School District insured area kids have full bellies while the community deals with Coronavirus.
Before dawn, the Cameron School District Food Staff begins work on preparing 900 meals for area students as they provide area kids nutrient-rich meals.
“No one is trained for this. That includes administration, bus drivers - we’re doing the best we can. I am proud to work with the group I’ve worked with because everyone has stepped up,” Cameron School District Food Service Director Donna Frazier said.
The program went into effect last week, only days removed from the Cameron School District announcing plans to cancel classes through at least April 3. Frazier said the program currently has more than 900 students enrolled and has no income restriction. Even Cameron citizens housing a student from outside the district can apply so long as the student is 18 years old or younger. She described the endeavor as a beef-up version of the summer food service program.
“The summer food service program is designed to feed children outside of normal school hours. We had tossed around the idea of having an evening food service for kids who play sports, parents that work late - those kind of things,” Frazier said. “We know there is a need in this community and it’s not just for kids with parents struggling economically. We live in a busy society now and parents know they can get something affordable, nutritious and delicious as another option for the parent. This program we’re following is the summer food service program. The way the program is set up and designed, it’s allowed to be followed during an emergency.”
As part of the program, food service professional as well as teacher volunteers begin cooking and assembling meals at 6 a.m., then prep them for delivery where another crew of school district employees takes them to awaiting district bus drivers who, along with area teachers, deliver the meals door-to-door with a caravan of buses leaving Cameron High School by 10:30 a.m.
“The first couple of days there were logistical challenges, but for the most part parents have been so appreciative. I’ve had parents on the phone and you can hear the crack in their voice from being so thankful their children are being fed,” Frazier said.
One of those parents is Courtney Malone, who waited outside of her home with her children near Parkview Elementary for Tuesday’s delivery. With all parents living within the Cameron School District eligible, she said receiving meals does not carry any social stigma and it helps her child cope with the loss of a community they’ve been a part of since kindergarten.
“It’s awesome, but the kids enjoy it too. For my second-grader especially; it helps her feel a little more connected to the school still,” Malone said. “They’re missing the school. They miss the activities and the routine. It keeps them familiar and connected. She was super excited. Last week, we missed out on it but she saw the bus. She said ‘Mom, kids are going to school.’ When I explained what they were doing she was excited and said ‘I want school lunch.’”
Although a gargantuan undertaking, keeping children fed is a rewarding comfort for some food service workers.
“It’s definitely a challenge, and different from what we’re used to, but it’s a good thing we’re doing for our community,” food service worker Brooke Fife said. “They were excited and glad we were doing this. There have been a lot of people saying thank you and being very cooperative. It’s been a fun experience really. It’s a big relief. I have friends in the program too and I talked to them and informed them about it. It’s been challenging, but people are pleased with what we’re doing.”