DELL RAPIDS, SD — More than 8,000 free meals were served to the children and families of Dell Rapids School District while schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The innovations that made that possible will help Lunchtime Solutions and Dell Rapids schools continue to provide healthy meals to students into the new school year.
“We want to make sure that keeping children well-fed is one less worry for families in such a chaotic, stressful time,” said Tammy Coyle, Vice President of Operations for Lunchtime Solutions.
Under the direction of Food Service Director Deb Emmert and kitchen staff, Dell Rapids schools held their emergency breakfast and lunch program from March 16 through May 15th. Meals were distributed in two locations from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM each weekday. The district also provided deliveries to students who were not able to get to the schools during the designated times.
These “grab and go meals” were available because the USDA granted schools waivers to run the Summer Food Service Program, which is universally free for children ages 0-18.
“It truly was a team effort to turn our regular program served in the lunchroom into a 100 percent take-out-based option, almost overnight.”
Based in North Sioux City, Lunchtime Solutions partners with 51 districts to manage their food service programs, ranging in size from over 4,000 students to under 200. Those districts together have served 2.3 million meals to their students since mid-March. Since schools were closed across the Midwest, having access to free meals that are well-balanced and taste good has never been more important for children and their families, many of whom are still dealing with a loss of income, Coyle said.
“Almost all our schools needed and requested this service, not just the large ones,” Coyle said. “The fact that our staff have served more than 2 million meals since mid-March speaks to how much this has truly been needed.”
Coming into the fall semester, Lunchtime Solutions has worked with Dell Rapids schools to provide serving solutions that fit each location’s needs, Coyle said. Menus have been modified to reduce self-service, and social distancing has been put into effect in the lunchroom area.
“Our teams will continue to successfully adapt our programs as situations change, “she said. “We could never do this without the dedicated staff who work these programs with the help of school district staff and volunteers. Providing nutritious meals to children who may otherwise not have them is very important to us, and we know it is to the schools and communities we serve, as well.”
PHOTO CUTLINE — Photo provided by Rachelle Loutsch/Lunchtime Solutions
An assortment of food, including sandwiches, salads, fruits, vegetables, cereal and milk have been available in grab and go meals being served at Lunchtime Solutions schools.