Q&A with Jeffco’s Erika Edwards: Feeding families during COVID-19

Food service operations director talks numbers, process

Casey Van Divier
cvandivier@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 4/1/20

In addition to taking more than 150 schools, all operating as normal the week of March 9, and transferring them online for the district’s first day of remote learning March 17, Jeffco Public …

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Q&A with Jeffco’s Erika Edwards: Feeding families during COVID-19

Food service operations director talks numbers, process

Posted

In addition to taking more than 150 schools, all operating as normal the week of March 9, and transferring them online for the district’s first day of remote learning March 17, Jeffco Public Schools also found itself balancing the nutritional needs of families amid the COVID-19 crisis.

In the same timeframe that the district transitioned to remote learning, it also organized an operation to serve low-income families in the community, some of whom rely on schools to serve their children through the Free and Reduced Lunch Program.

By March 16, Jeffco’s Grab and Go meal sites were up and running, serving breakfast and lunch to any and all community members in need. The program will run through the duration of remote learning.

After the first two weeks of the new approach to school food service, Erika Edwards, director of operations for Jeffco’s Food and Nutrition Services, outlines the details of the operation and who it has helped:

How many families have been coming to the sites each day?

The number of families varies based on the site. We are serving between 30 and 180 lunch meals each day (in total).

What does the work day look like?

Currently, two to three employees are working at each site. The day starts with preparing breakfast. The breakfast items are then assembled into bags that contain all of the menu items — entree, fruit, fruit juice and milk — and then placed on the serving line for families to pick up. After breakfast, lunch meals are prepared and assembled into Grab and Go bags for distribution.

Why is it important to provide this service to families? 

As in many communities across the state and the United States, many of Jeffco’s families depend on the school meal program to provide two healthy meals to their students each day. During this time of school building closure, this need does not disappear and actually, the need for healthy meals will likely increase. With this service, we’re able to provide a bit of stability for our families during this uncertain time. 

Have you heard back from families taking part? 

The sentiment I hear most from the families is that they are grateful for the meals, especially at a time when they aren’t sure of so many other things. It was reassuring for them to know they could go to a familiar and comfortable place to pick up a meal.

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