GLASGOW — On Monday morning, the nutrition services staff for the Barren County School System began getting two week’s worth of food ready for deliver to more than 2,000 families on Tuesday.
The staff is sending out two week’s worth of food in one delivery because of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday.
“Because they have more lenient regulations, we are able to serve seven meals a week. Typically, we only do five,” said CheyAnne Fant, nutrition services director for Barren County schools.
The school system prepares breakfast and lunch for families Mondays through Fridays. The meals are delivered through its BC Reads and Feeds non-profit program. On Fridays, typically, 250 families receive food. But because the the school system has been able to expand its program further out into the county this summer with the help of bus drivers and teacher’s aides, it will be able to serve 2,056 families. Each bag will contain 14 breakfasts and 14 lunches.
“We’ve never done that many meal bags before,” she said. “We’re kind of excited because our outreach is so much broader than it has been in the past. If you are looking for a blessing out of this, it is that we’ve been able to feed more people because of the more lenient regulations and because the board of education and Mr. (Bo) Matthews has allowed us to use the contracted time of the bus drivers and the classroom assistants, and anyone who did not get their contract fulfilled, they’ve been able to help us in food services.”
On Tuesday, there will be more than 250 people working across the county, including 70 food service employees, to make it happen.
Memorial Day Weekend is not the only time during the summer that the school system delivers weekend meals. It also happens for the Fourth of July weekend, which is when the school system’s nutrition services program is shut down for the week.
Funding for the meals comes from the annual Walk A Mile in Their Shoes fundraiser for BC Reads and Feeds.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school system was unable to do the fundraiser.
Instead, it did a virtual Walk A Mile in Their Shoes, which was shown on YouTube and Facebook. There were 1,700 people who watched the event, Fant said.
“We knew with this year with so many people being in a financial bind that it probably wouldn’t have been as successful as it has been in the past,” she said, adding she was OK with that because the leniency in the regulations has allowed for more meals to be served.
“We are still able to provide the services that we want to provide, but it’s just in a different way,” she said.
Meal bags for the Fourth of July will likely contain hot dogs, baked beans, hot dog buns and the ingredients needed to make s’mores.
There are also plans to send a book home to every family called “The Coffee Bean Book.”
“It will have like family activities to go along with that. And really the book is perfect for this time period because it talks about what do you do when the heat turns on,” she said. “Like, you get into a crunch whether it’s a family crisis or something like the Corona pandemic and how do you react to times that hard.”
She continued that the book takes readers through three different scenarios.
“I don’t want to give too much away because I want them to read the book,” Fant said, laughing.
The school system is collecting books on Mondays and Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to noon at Barren County Middle School along Trojan Trail for the BC Reads and Feeds Program.
“People can just drop those off in the covered areas and we are letting those books sit for a period of time, and then we will be distributing those books to students just like we do during summer feeding,” she said. “But because we are serving so many more families, we are in need of more books.”
The school system is accepting donations of books and has wish lists from Amazon and Walmart from which people can choose when making a book and/or a supply donation.
Some of the supplies that are needed include sidewalk chalk, bubbles and games.
“The kids, since they are not in school, they get less physical activity and they are also getting less fruits and vegetables on a typical day, so the meals we are providing obviously have the fruits and vegetables,” she said, adding that research has also shown that children are less likely to read when they are not in school because they don’t have books in their homes.
The virtual Walk A Mile in Their Shoes is still available for viewing on YouTube.