Devoted ‘Lunch Ladies’ and volunteers are heroes for students during COVID-19 outbreak

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MECHANICVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — During this outbreak heroes are beginning to emerge.  And in Saratoga County’s Mechanicville the heroes are the school district’s food service workers.

Wearing t-shirts that read “Keep calm and let the Lunch Lady handle it” – they, along with a small army of volunteers are making sure that students who can’t go to school are still being provided with healthy meals.

As News10’s Anya Tucker found out–  that means thousands of breakfasts and lunches. She spoke with Mechanicville City School District’s food service director, Deb Mackey and Mike Mitchell, principal of Mechanicville Jr.,Sr. High School via Skype.

Anya: “You just came on the job recently.”  Deb Mackey/Food Service Dir., Mechanicville City School District: “I did. I was 3 weeks into it when this started.” Anya: “And what did you think?” Deb: “God, I hope I remember everyone’s names!” (she laughs)

Mike Mitchell/Principal, Mechanicville Jr.,Sr. High School: “We put a plan in place with Deb Mackey and her food service crew. How are we going to feed out kids? Roughly 1300 kids in our school district. Breakfast and lunch we were looking at 2600 meals a day.”

Anya: “In order to deliver these, what do you have to do?” Deb: “We have the cooks and the food service staff in the kitchen preparing everything. And then the volunteers. And there have been many volunteers. And we bag up the breakfast items and lunch items separately and we put both in a bag, so we know each student is going to get one of each meal.” 

Anya: “And how are you delivering these” Deb: “So we have our transportation department. Our drivers and bus aides hope on those buses and then those food service staff get together and count the meals for each bus route. Volunteers come and count the milk out and off they go.”

Anya: “How many meals so far?” Deb: “9,078 I think. That’s not counting today. Parents are getting a hold of us saying the kids like the food, so we feel pretty successful.”

Mike: “We are in uncharted waters. We don’t know what the future holds but we need to be there for these kids to make sure that they’re basic needs are met. From out lunch staff, and our food service staff to our aides, these individuals have some of the best relationships with our students. And without the help and logistical planning by these people our kids wouldn’t be fed.”

Anya: “And you’re going to keep it going?” Deb: “I am. As long as I can.”

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