Ladysmith School District prepares to safely feed students

Published: Aug. 28, 2020 at 6:03 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 28, 2020 at 8:05 AM CDT
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LADYSMITH, Wis. (WEAU) - One of the biggest challenges for the upcoming school year is coming up with a plan for meal times.

For this School’s In Session story, Hello Wisconsin is taking a look at how a food service director is preparing for a unique year.

Parents, staff, administration and of course the food service director at Ladysmith School District all had input on the plan for meal times at school. Just days away from school starting, they have a plan to feed breakfast and lunch to the nearly 400 students that will be in the building.

Food service directors are opening up the kitchen for a unique school year. “We’ve made changes and then we’ve made changes again and we will continue to do that,” said Shelly Hayden, the food service director in Ladysmith. Hayden has held the position for 21 years, but this year she is cooking up a whole new plan. “Trying to provide a safe environment as far as seating, as far as coming through the lines, students will no longer be able to self-serve anything, things they were used to, are going to change significantly,” she said.

There will be no cash purchases, the menu will be limited, they have spread out lunch times and the cafeteria will be sanitized between meals. But, the biggest challenge is where to put all the students. “It’s the one time that they are all coming together as an entire school and getting served,” said Laura Stunkel, the Ladysmith Superintendent.

Students can eat outside, in the classroom, in the balcony above the gym and the cafeteria which will have every other seating. “Making sure that we do our number one best to make sure the kids are kept safe and the staff is kept safe,” Hayden said.

Another top priority is making sure there is food available for kids who really need it. “They may or may not have complete meals, they may or may not have fresh fruits and vegetables at home, things like that they otherwise will get at school,” Hayden added.

More students are qualifying for free and reduced lunch this school year, nearly 50 % meet requirements in Ladysmith. “It’s going to be a challenge with product availability, with staffing, with lack of staffing, all students on board but we are ready,” Hayden said.

As for breakfast, it will be a grab and go style that the students will eat in their first classroom for the day. They are just asking for patience with the new system as changes are likely once the school year starts.

Copyright 2020 WEAU. All rights reserved.

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