JOHNSON CREEK — Since March 23, the School District of Johnson Creek has been providing free meals for students at home.
Meals are prepared in the Johnson Creek school cafeteria, said food service director Kassidy Wright.
As with the meals the district prepares during a regular school year with children in the buildings, Kassidy said, the district has maintained its commitment to serving food that is “nutritious, delicious and filling.
“We utilize local, fresh, and from-scratch cooking techniques whenever it is possible,” Wright said. “We know how important base nutrition is for children’s minds to learn and grow.”
While students are away from the regular school buildings during the coronavirus pandemic, she said, district officials take pride in their ability to assist local families. However, they miss seeing staff members and students in person, Wright said.
The Johnson Creek district has been utilizing the “Seamless Summer Option” to serve nonperishable breakfasts and prepackaged lunches free of cost to all children age 18 and younger, delivering meals from 11 a.m. to noon daily Monday through Friday.
“We started with a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday delivery system for meals (that would feed families) from Monday through Sunday,” Wright said.
“When our numbers jumped from 100 to 400, we decided to start delivering every day,” she said.
At that time, the district moved away from supplying families with a week of meals, choosing to provide meals to cover Monday through Friday as in a regular school week.
Wright said the Johnson Creek school district did offer meals straight through spring break, which for that district took place in April.
Although the state Department of Public Instruction does not normally reimburse districts for meals served during spring break, the DPI opened up funding for schools to do so this year due to the continuing pandemic.
“Our numbers grow every week,” Wright said.
Right now, the district is serving around 400 children, representing 800 free meals (breakfast and lunch.) That’s some 190 families per day.
On May 1, the Johnson Creek district delivered its 20,000th meal.
Wright broke down the numbers week by week as follows.
In the first week, the district delivered approximately 200 meals every other day, Monday-Sunday.
During the second week, the district delivered approximately 350 meals every other day, Monday-Sunday.
During the third week, the Johnson Creek schools delivered approximately 700 meals every weekday, Monday through Friday.
In the fourth week, those numbers jumped to 800 meals every weekday.
“Even though we are essential workers, we are thankful to be healthy and serving our community,” Wright said. “We have all been facing sacrifices and we are trying our best to stay positive and lighthearted during this uncertain time.”
The food service director said that it is really rewarding to receive emails, texts and calls from families thanking the district for the meals.
Without this free service, some families would not have food right now, Wright said.
“That’s what makes this all worth it,” she said. “We love what we do and couldn’t imagine any of our students going hungry.”
She said that many people have assisted in the process, including her eight regular staffers, the Riteway Bus Company and its drivers, school administrators, and local grocery stores that have provided boxes and bags for the deliveries, including Lake Mills Market, Festival Foods in Fort Atkinson and the Jefferson Piggly Wiggly.