Lakeview Feeds Families During Pandemic

Brandon Hatfield, Reporter

Covid-19 has not only halted the United States, but the world as a whole. As soon as schools shut down unexpectedly, people came to realize that our schools provide society with far more than an education. One of those provisions is food. Many students rely on the breakfasts and lunches provided in cafeterias every school day. For all students at Lakeview the breakfast is free. For some the lunch is free or at a reduced price, and for anyone a healthy meal was available five days a week at a fairly reasonable price.

Those who feed the student body didn’t miss a beat when it came to continuing to care for vulnerable families.

As the initial shutdown was for only three weeks, those who run the school food pantries got right to work pulling food from their shelves to make sure students who rely on that service would have enough to eat during that time. While teachers worked on Friday, March 13th to quickly transition their lessons to online programs, Guidance Counselors Brittney Abbott and Kara Kasula packed 3 weeks worth of food to distributed to 40-45 families who were already Friday  food bag receivers, and also packed boxes for some new ones who reached out and said they were in need.

Abbott said, “We did a Saturday and a Monday distribution. It was 3 weeks worth of breakfast, snacks, and lunches, as well as fresh fruit, vegetables, and milk cartons from the cafeteria.”

During the second week of the shutdown, Chef Adam Hale of AVI, our cafeteria food service, began coordinating a weekly distribution of meals for hungry families in need. While Hale was able to secure federal assistance to purchase the food, the process of preparing, packing, and distributing the meals is no small feat.

Lakeview District Nurse Coordinator Maureen Paczak provided the following guidance so that everyone helping out could be vigilant about avoiding transmission of the COVID 19 virus during the process:

  1. Any Employee who has a temperature greater than 100.4, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, or overall not feeling well, must NOT come to the school.
  2. Any Employee who has had contact with or is living in the same home with any person who is ill must NOT come to the school.
  3. Employees must check their temperature before leaving for the school and upon arrival, Paczak will take their temperature before they enter the building. Again, if 100.4 or greater, they must not enter the building.
  4. Employees must work in a space where they are 6 feet apart from each other.
  5. As always, all food must be handled with gloves.
  6. Employees must also wear masks when preparing the food in an abundance of caution to protect the food from their respiratory droplets.

Hale and cafeteria workers prep on Tuesdays and distribution is on Wednesdays. They are providing 5 breakfast meals and 5 lunch meals for every car that comes for food. Notifications of the service were announced on drund, the district website, and through a one-call to Lakeview families.

Paczak said that on the first distribution day, “A total of 112 families picked up food” between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

That first distribution day Superintendent Jo Taylor, high school Principal Lawrence Herrholtz, and high school Assistant Principal Michael Detoro worked to place 2 food bags in the trunk of each vehicle so as to avoid personal contact.

Paczak shared that the following week the group “prepped for an expected 140 families. We started at 7 a.m. and worked non-stop til 4 p.m. For the last 2 hours, [Supervisor] John Bain and [custodian] Mark DeClaudio came in, put on gloves and a mask, and helped us!”

The day of distribution that week they returned to prep for another 60 famlies just to be safe.

Paczak said, “We didn’t want to run out!”

On that day, Superintendent Jo Taylor, Lakeview Middle School Principal Ashley Handrych, Lakeview Elementary Principal Scott Taylor, and Lakeview K-8 Assistant Principal Ryan Stowell worked to place the packaged meals in car trunks.

It certainly takes a “Lakeview family” effort to make sure all our families are fed during this pandemic.