As the mandated school closure was announced one week ago, we were all thrust into unprecedented times. Immediately, the Jenison Public Schools administration team, teachers and staff brainstormed plans to make sure our local families would be cared for during this time. A major concern was making sure that daily meals would not become an obstacle.
On a typical school day, Mary Darnton, Director of Food Service and her team in the Jenison Food Service department will serve around 130 breakfasts and nearly 2,000 lunches. At the onset of the schools being closed in response to COVID-19, Mary and the team were faced with a few challenges that needed to be solved quickly.
Jenison Public Schools food service meals are proudly prepared on site in each school building with about 90% of the meal items served hot and fresh. As they planned to host socially-distanced distribution sites; it was imperative that the meals served during the closure were 100% cold items.
The meals served still adhere to the USDA outlined meal pattern that includes a prescribed combination of whole grains, proteins (for lunches), fruit or vegetable (both for lunches) and milk. The month’s scheduled menu changed overnight and creative problem solving kicked in. The food safety and sanitation approved staff is now lovingly preparing the meals ahead of time at the Central Kitchen and using perishable items as soon as possible. They are working with other partners in the community to donate what might not be able to be used in time, and food orders continue to trickle in from approved commercial suppliers.
As the distributions began this week, the sites have remained calm with much appreciation expressed from the families. We’re off to a great start and anticipate the demand to increase in the coming days. I’m so grateful for Mary and the entire Jenison Food Service Department for their quick thinking and eager attitudes as they put this program into place so quickly .
Jenison Public Schools will offer free breakfast and lunch for children in need during the statewide school closure. Packaged breakfast and lunch is being made available through our food service program to any child ages 0-18 (or up to age 26 with special needs). The details are as follows:
FREE BREAKFAST & LUNCH
Friday, March 20 and Beginning Monday, March 23, families may pick up on Mondays and Wednesdays. This encourages less travel, minimizes social contact and allows a pick up of free meals to cover multiple days.
Bursley Elementary – 1195 Port Sheldon St, Jenison
Sandy Hill Elementary – 1990 Baldwin, Jenison
Bauerwood Elementary – 1443 Bauer Rd, Jenison
Jenison High School – 2140 Bauer Rd, Jenison
As many JPS students employ school of choice; the Jenison buildings may not be the closest to their home location. This is a statewide program, with no proof of enrollment required. Families may visit any distribution site in any school district. Anyone is welcome to drive up or walk to any site and may pick up meals for the number of children who are at home.
For families who are in need of food and can’t get to any of these four locations, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get food delivered directly to your homes. Please continue to watch your email and the Jenison Public Schools facebook page for any updates regarding this distribution program.