Since the COVID-19 pandemic made its way to San Diego County, no longer do the voices and laughter of students fill lunch areas in the South Bay. However, despite the lack of in-person traditional school, the Sweetwater Union High School District has hit a milestone in serving more than one million meals since the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools in March.
In Sweetwater, where a large number of students qualify for free and reduced lunches, the district has continued to provide nutrition to more than a million students with Grab ‘N Go meals and will continue to do so throughout the summer.
“It was important for me as a member of this community to attempt to provide as much normalcy as possible,” said Eric Span, Director of Nutrition Services. “I saw directly the impact of the COVID-19 closures on our families and wanted to serve as best we could.”
The district operated a dozen drive-through Grab & Go distribution centers that served seven breakfasts and seven lunches packaged together for a total of 14 meals a week. All students 18 and under were provided with meals.
“We needed our team to join in and they did,” said Span. “We also needed our distributor and manufacturer partners to help us re-envision our serving models.” According to Span, in order to relieve students and families dealing with food insecurity, nutrition services received a tremendous support from district-wide administrative teams to help serve families.
“The district needed parents to be patient with us as we quickly developed a service model that supported their needs. I am extremely proud of the work and dedication of our entire staff,” said Span. “Our Area Supervisors had to operate in new roles to make this successful. Our warehouse and maintenance teams have been tremendous during this crisis.”
“I believe the entire effort has been a testament to the Sweetwater Spirit. Every department and school site has been absolutely awesome in ensuring that our students continue to be cared for in this area,” said Span.