MINGO JUNCTION — Indian Creek Local School District’s Food Service Program is building upon its accolades after receiving another honor for feeding students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Food Service Director Eric White and his staff earned the Child Nutrition Award from the Children’s Hunger Alliance, a nonprofit organization aimed at eradicating childhood food insecurity. Rick Oxley, manager of school and summer nutrition for the organization, presented the award during the March 18 school board meeting at Indian Creek Middle School in Mingo Junction and praised the program for its continued efforts to serve students while schools were closed last year.
Indian Creek administrators and teachers collaborated with Child Nutrition and the Bay 6 Project of Mingo and used Children’s Hunger Alliance and GenYouth grant funds to expand its 2020 Summer Feeding Program and keep students nourished after the shutdown occurred. The food service staff prepared breakfast and lunch and delivered them by school bus to the Bay 6 site in downtown Mingo for distribution by volunteers, and the district presently feeds students whether they attend school or work at home. For virtual students, meals are packaged for pick up every Monday with more food included for the weekend and the district also provides weekend bags for in-school students each Friday.
Oxley estimated that 89,000 meals were distributed between March and August of 2020 and was amazed by the effort. He noted that one in five Ohio children are food insecure and every bit of help goes a long way.
“We are here to present the Children’s Hunger Alliance Child Nutrition Award to Indian Creek Schools in recognition of maximizing access to school meals to meet nutrition needs. Last spring, when the State of Ohio’s COVID response shut down schools, Indian Creek Schools responded with emergency feeding of students. Food service staff and volunteers coordinated meals ensuring that children had access to food to meet nutritional needs and serving over 89,000 meals,” he said. “Indian Creek’s food service program is a model program in the State of Ohio for implementing best practices to meet the nutritional needs of students and the community.”
He said the district applied for the No Kid Hungry School Nutrition Grant to help the cause and commended White and his employees for their dedication. White said none of it would have been possible without his staff, which includes Ashley Agin, Angie Van Kirk, Laura Sabedra-Norris, Lisa Pearce, L’tanya Martin and P.J. Redmond, who were all on hand to receive the award.
“Without this group, those 89,000 meals would not have gone out,” he commented, also thanking the district for their ongoing support.
The food service program most recently was heralded as one of nine districts to earn the 2021 Breakfast and Beyond distinction from the Ohio School Breakfast Challenge for its work during the pandemic and continued service while students are educated in school and remotely. District leaders also praised them during the meeting.
Board Vice President Kim Mark admired the group for their amazing work to serve the children.
“You guys make an impact,” added board member Bob Smith. “I really appreciate what you have done.”
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