Mar 24, 2021 2:07 PM

Geary County Schools receive state recognition for school meals during pandemic

Posted Mar 24, 2021 2:07 PM

Geary USD 475's Central Kitchen has received recognition from the Kansas State Department of Education for the staff's efforts in feeding the students during the COVID-19 pandemic since March of 2020.

Central  Kitchen staff prepare lunch for students
Central  Kitchen staff prepare lunch for students

When the pandemic struck staff navigated the challenges faced to have to-go breakfast and lunch meals ready for the students, while ensuring the students were healthy and ready to learn.

“We had to figure out what we could serve that they can grab and go, because at that time most of the meals we served hot and they weren’t really made to do that,” said Shelly Gunderson, director of child nutrition for the school district.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the kitchen served approximately 5,058 students a day.

Shelly Gunderson, Director of Child Nutrition
Shelly Gunderson, Director of Child Nutrition

“The response of our Central Kitchen staff has been nothing short of amazing. We were called back on Friday of spring break a year ago, and by Tuesday of the following week the food service program was up and running  at multiple locations across the district,” Chief Operations Officer David Wild said. “To this day the dedicated staff of professionals have not looked back while continuing to ensure the nutritional needs of our children are met.” Simultaneously, the staff helped feed local, struggling day cares meals for their children.

The staff also received the Kansas State Department of Education’s Sunflower Spotlight for their work serving students breakfast and the positive impact it made.

“It’s good because breakfast is important, that they start the day off,” Gunderson said. “The educational aspect of it, it’s showing that kids that eat in the morning do better in school.”