Keeping Children Fed During School Closures

Meals aren’t just about food — they provide normalcy and consistency, too

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COVID-19 changed the lives of families nearly overnight. Schools were closed, employment was paused and socializing was halted. However, one factor that remained unaffected was the school lunch programs in De Smet, Iroquois and Lake Preston.

All three districts provided lunches for no charge to children, ages 0-18, in their districts. These meals included an entrée, fruits, vegetables and milk. The programs were funded through the South Dakota School Nutrition Program, as well as the United States Department of Agriculture. In order to aid in providing meals to these students, some members of each community donated materials or food items for each district to use. De Smet used mini Babybel cheese donated by Bel Brands (Jake Anderson) and Maynards of Lake Preston donated bags for the Lake Preston program.

Across Kingsbury County, school cooks offered families normalcy, consistency and healthy meals. While school buildings were closed, these unsung heroes quickly adapted to providing meals for students to have in their own homes or daycares.

De Smet
How many students served each day (average)? 225
Timeframe: Started on March 17 and ended May 22.
What was served/how did you decide on meals? School cooks decided the menu by determining what would be easy for families to prepare, yet still meet school nutrition guidelines. Pizza, french toast sticks, ham sandwiches, tangerine chicken, sloppy joes and popcorn chicken are a few examples of meals.
How were meals delivered to families? Lunches were both picked-up and delivered to homes daily during March 17-April 3. Then meals transitioned to weekly pick-ups to reduce the chance of spreading COVID starting on April 6.

Iroquois
How many students served each day (average)? 116
Timeframe: started on March 23 and ended on May 20
What was served/how did you decide on meals? Our food service decided on the menu. Originally, the meals started out as sandwiches. About halfway through the closure, cooks added items such as hamburgers, chicken nuggets and fajitas.
How were meals delivered to families? Bus routes were used to deliver meals to the student houses every day.

Lake Preston
How many students served each day (average)? 70
Timeframe: Started on March 18 and ended May 15
What was served? Breakfast was cereal-fruit and milk. Lunch was a sandwich (alternated turkey/cheese ham/cheese or peanut butter) chips, carrot/celery sticks, granola bar/fruit snacks or a cookie and milk. Lisa Cleveland, food service manager in Lake Preston, felt this worked better than a hot meal as it became hard to order certain food items.
How were meals delivered to families? The first week lunches were picked up at the school after that buses delivered sack lunches in town and in the country daily.

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