By Emily LaForme, Fort Campbell CourierApril 10, 2020
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – To support children and Families during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fort Campbell Child Nutrition Program is offering free drive-through grab-and-go breakfast and lunch meals to all children up to the age of 18 for as long as school closures continue on post.
Children do not have to be students at Fort Campbell schools to participate. Pick-ups are 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Friday at the Barkley Elementary School in the car-rider zone, 177 Gorgas Ave., and at the Barsanti Elementary School bus loading zone, 7409 McAuliffe Way.
“We are trying to make their meals last a little bit longer,” said Elaine Dawkins, School Meals Program food service director. “By providing breakfast and lunch for each day, parents only to have worry about dinner meals for their kids. It will help them out by stretching food and grocery financial costs.”
For the grab-and-go system, cars pull up and tell the helpers how many meals they need – children do not need to be present at the pick-up. Lunch for that day and breakfast for the next day are distributed at the same time.
“We’ve just been providing sandwiches and fruit at first to see what we can do safely,” Dawkins said. “When we start getting into hot meals, we have to worry about food safe temperatures. We still have to meet the proper nutrition components. They have a vegetable, a grain, the protein, a milk and in the morning they have a juice.”
Dawkins said they can use as many volunteers to help package and distribute the meals as possible. Volunteers should be ready to work and physically healthy. To volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It may be hard to do long-term, because I’m limited on employees,” she said. “My employees have kids at home, or they cannot work because they, or someone in their Family, have a compromised immune system. Some of my employees are older and scared about getting sick. My workers get here at 6:30 a.m., and leave here at 3 p.m.”
Between the two locations, Dawkins said they have been providing anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 meals-per-day. The funding for providing these meals is through the state of Kentucky.
“We’ve spread out our work-space into the cafeteria so everyone can work at a safe distance apart,” she said. “I would say we are providing more meals now, because I think there is more of a need.”
Dawkins asks parents who are picking up meals to be considerate of the workers and the amount of work that goes into providing these meals.
“It takes everyone in the community involved,” she said. “We need the community to come in and play a part. My workers are wonderful, they are dedicated, and they are positive. When you see my workers, be nice to them, because it’s a lot of work.”
Several of the staff members and parents at the schools are already volunteering to help pass out and package the lunches.
“I just wanted to help take care of our students and Families”, said Brandi Saunto, Barsanti Elementary School Parent Teach Organization president. “This helps give them something to be excited about and hope for during this chaos.”