School staff makes sure kids are fed

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The classroom doors may not be open but the cafeteria is still running. Pierce staff make sure the students receive breakfast and lunch for a day of learning at home.

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Class is not in session and the playground is deserted, but the school cafeterias are still up and running.

In a time when consumables are scattered in availability, the school staff behind the apron strings continue their mission to provide sustenance for the children.

Anyone under the age of 18 is welcomed to come receive food daily through the many locations throughout Colusa County.

Last week, the USDA announced additional flexibilities to make it easier for children to get food during the COVID-19 national emergency by removing administrative roadblocks for the dedicated local staff who serve them.

On Thursday, the USDA granted a nationwide waiver giving states the flexibility to allow parent pick-up of meals for kids, without the children being present, to ease burdens on local meal providers who move heaven and earth to make sure their students have food.

Food Service Director for the Pierce Unified School District, Stacie Velazquez, said her staff moved the bagged meals into the back of their yellow truck when it began to rain.

“We’re ready to rock and roll,” said Velazquez, who added the staff are just as excited to see the children as they are to come receive things like chocolate milk. “I mean, what can we do? We got to be out here for the kids. A lot of them are having the same struggle that they don’t have the food at home. So being able to at least get this bag a day, we know they’re getting something in their bellies.”

Williams Joint Unified School District cafeteria staff take a well-earned break after providing hundreds of meals to children.

Velazquez, and her staff of five, hand out approximately 300 lunches to the vehicles that pull up and over 200 meals go out for delivery.

“I think it’s a great thing that our district is putting out the extra effort to help in times of need and make sure the students don’t suffer,” said Candace Delepierre, one of three delivery drivers for Pierce. “We are a close-knit town and knowing that our school district is going the extra mile puts that much more respect for them. It’s not just us either. Even our superintendent has been taking turns on each one of the bus routes helping handout also, which is amazing to see.”

Kristi Ward, who is in charge of Williams and Maxwell, said the sudden and unexpected closure of the schools meant that there was food on hand.

“Let’s clean the freezer out and not buy any more than we absolutely have to,” said Ward, who had to send people to the Education Village’s distribution once they handed out over 300 bagged lunches.

“We have a really higher percentage of free and reduced meals,” Ward added, “The parents are appreciating help, especially when you go to the grocery store and it’s hard to find stuff right now.”

Although delivery drivers have not been able to provide consistently, due to the high demand of similar packaged items ordered by the schools, the staff are able to put together a breakfast and lunch consisting of the major food groups. El Toro Loco donated brown paper bags after Ward’s staff ran out.

“We try different things every day to make sure there’s not the same boring thing,” said Lupe Madrigal, as she handed meals consisting of warm bean and cheese burritos to families pulling up in vehicles at the Education Village, in Williams. “You got to love it, helping to make sure that kids eat.”

Lloyd Green Jr, Editor
Lloyd Green Jr. is the Owner and Publisher of the Williams Pioneer Review. He is dedicated in publishing the news and informing the community of Colusa County. Lloyd has been with the publication since 2008, and purchased the business in 2010. Under his ownership the newspaper has grown significantly in subscriptions, publishes weekly, and obtained the title of Newspaper of General Circulation by the Superior Court of Colusa County in Sept. 2017. Lloyd is also the director of advertising, classified manager, legal notice clerk, and circulation manager. To contact Lloyd, email him at lloyd@colusacountynews.net or call (530) 458-4141 ext. 100.