School district meal staff recognized for hard work

Child nutrition staff feed local schoolchildren. Travis M. Whitehead/Valley Morning Star

HARLINGEN — They have stood at the ready these last desperate weeks, handing out hot meals to frantic hands eager for solace and vitality amid the chaos.

The Harlingen school district is saluting the child nutrition employees who’ve spent long days feeding local children during the COVID-19 crisis. Without them, the district’s children might not eat.

“ Today we are celebrating School Lunch Hero Day,” Shane Strubhart, spokesperson for the district, said on Friday.

“ We are celebrating all the incredible work the child nutrition staff is doing to feed our students,” he said.

When the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world, the Harlingen school district quickly mobilized. Part of that mobilization was the creation of the Good to Go Meal Pick Up program. Child nutrition staff completely reconfigured the job of feeding students; they spent long hours preparing meals for families to pick up at feeding stations throughout the district.

“ In my opinion, the school nutrition employees have been going above and beyond to feed the children in our community,” said Judy Baker, director of child nutrition for the Harlingen school district.

“ They have to start earlier than before, like at 5:30 a.m. because we start our meal distribution from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.,” Baker said. “We have to get things ready to go.”

Just to give an idea of the volume of their work, this week child nutrition staff served more than 47,000 breakfasts and lunches.

Superintendent Art Cavazos congratulated the employees for their hard work.

“ From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank our child nutrition staff for continuing to do incredible work serving meals to the children in our community,” Cavazos said. “Your work is truly a calling and you’re not just a hero today, but every day you feed a hungry child.”

Friday some staff were able to take part of the day off, but the real celebration begins Monday.

“ We have some little surprises planned for our employees,” she said.

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twhitehead@valleystar.com