U-46 Food and Nutrition Services honored for achievement
In a year that has demonstrated the importance of school meals, Elgin Area School District U-46's Food & Nutrition Services department was honored with an "Accent on Achievement" during the Oct. 5 board of education meeting. The honor came just ahead of National School Lunch Week, Oct. 12-16.
In a normal year, U-46 serves 3.35 million lunches annually, with an average of 18,700 students eating a school lunch each day. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March -- and the transition of school to distance learning -- U-46 has distributed more than 2.2 million free meals to children at school sites, and starting in September, community sites including parks, apartment complexes, and parking lots.
"Just like other employees in U-46, staff in the Food & Nutrition Services department have risen to the challenge posed by COVID-19," said U-46 Superintendent Tony Sanders. "They have been flexible and creative and formed community partnerships to guarantee we can meet U-46 families where they are."
All total, U-46 is now distributing a free breakfast and lunch, packaged to take home, at nearly 80 sites every weekday. The meals are for children 18 and under; no paperwork is required, and the children do not need to be present. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has granted schools free meal waiver flexibility through Dec. 31.
President John F. Kennedy created National School Lunch Week in 1962 to promote the importance of a healthy school lunch in a child's life and the impact it has inside and outside the classroom. The federally-funded National School Lunch Program serves more than 30 million children every day.
"We know that nutritious meals in schools are important for students' concentration, behavior and mood," said Elena Hildreth, Director of Food & Nutrition Services. "That doesn't change when children are learning remotely. We're proud that we have been able to support our U-46 families who are struggling with financial hardship and other difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic."
Hildreth joined the board meeting to accept the "Accent on Achievement" certificate for the Food and Nutrition Services department. The meeting was live streamed on the district's YouTube channel.