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Lifelong Learning

Teamwork Brings Meals And Security To Students

April 23, 2020

By Chelsea Diederich, Communication Specialist

Food is so much more than a way to keep yourself healthy and provide the necessary nutrients for your body. Food is used to create emotional connections with family, friends and even sometimes strangers. It’s a comfort when we are sad; it’s a way to celebrate when we are happy and it makes us feel safe when our stomach is full. That’s why the work of the Spud team to provide breakfast and lunch to our students is so important. It keeps students safe and provides for them during this unprecedented time.

Earlier this month we had the chance to ride along for a behind the scenes look at feeding students during the COVID-19 school closure. Between March 18 - April 16, over 39,000 meals have been served because of the hard work and dedication of many individuals.

Our guide for the day was bus driver Les Fleischman who has worked for Moorhead Area Public Schools since 1998. Her enthusiastic personality paved the way for an informational morning, meeting the many faces behind our student mobile meals team.

Pulling into the Dorothy Dodds Elementary School parking lot at 8:45 a.m. meals were already being rolled out the door and loaded onto buses lining the building. Transportation services and food services teams worked together to load the meals onto each bus making sure they had everything they needed before heading off to their drop-off routes or stationary positions. 

To make this happen, teams working out of two different schools each make over 1,000 meals each a day, starting as early as 6 a.m. to finish up before the buses take off. Donna Tvedt, Director of Food Service says, “I am so proud of how everyone pitched in and made this work. Food and paper products are getting a little hard to come by, so there are constant adjustments that need to be done and how the team adapts to these changes is amazing.”

Before we left Dorothy Dodds we ran into Mike Engelking who is a custodian and has worked for the School District for ten years. He ways helping break down boxes from deliveries of necessary items to feed our students. Everyone was doing their part to prioritize our students and help them excel at distance learning.

Multiple teams working together to get the job done. That is one of the benefits Fleischman has noticed through this process. “We have gotten to know each other better than before. In a normal school setting most of us only see each other in passing; this has provided us an opportunity to become a team.” 

Next we headed to a meal pick-up point where I met Carla Bakken. Bakken is a bus driver who has worked for Moorhead Area Public Schools since 2014. She invited me up into the bus,  where her and a teammate packed up meals and handed them out to students. You could tell how important it was to students and staff to see familiar faces. As students came to receive their breakfast and lunch smiles were on everyone’s faces.

It took hard work to bring the meal distribution process to the smooth, practiced process of today. Coordinating delivery meals to 70 distribution points over three hours is no small task. Fleischman described the first few days as a learning curve. Fleischman said on the first day of mobile meals some stations needed additional meals within 30 minutes. That doesn’t happen any more. “We worked very hard as a team to get to where we are now.” she says.

Meeting amazing team members who work hard, despite challenges and unknowns, showed how #SpudStrong our team is. Seeing the impact we have on students was an important reminder of how impactful each part is. Together we are there when our students need us the most. Thank you to the entire Spud team for your hard work and efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your efforts do not go unnoticed, especially not to that smiling student whose day you have made.

Categorized under: School