Saturday, July 4, 2020

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Moab, UT

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    GCSD awards staff for Child Nutrition Program during COVID-19 crisis

    Over 55,000 meals served since March shutdown began

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    Grand County School District’s Children Nutrition Program food service staff is the 2019-20 Friend of Education for Grand County School District.

    The Grand County School District’s Friend of Education award winners
    The Grand County School District’s Friend of Education award winners are, front row from the left, Jessica Mason and Jeri MacAdams; back row from the left: Cindy Bleggi, Irene Walker, Michelle Walker, Norma Costanza, Jessica Taylor, Summer York, Kristi Striblen, Ivy Partridge, Debra Rappe, Rhonda Pitchford and Alysha Packard. Not pictured are cooks Laurenda Begay and Shanna Roads. Photo courtesy of GCSD

    Friend of Education is an award given to a community group each year that has demonstrated outstanding leadership and service for the Grand County School District. The Child Nutrition Program was nominated by school employees and selected by the Grand County Board of Education for being “amazing as they have prepared and delivered thousands of meals these past weeks.”

    Over 55,000 school meals have been served in the community since schools closed on March 16 due to COVID-19.

    Grand County School District Superintendent Taryn Kay commended the food service staff for their hard work transforming the Child Nutrition Program to meet the community’s needs.

    “Nobody is working harder to feed kids in Moab than you,” Taryn told the kitchen staff, adding that it’s the “golden-age” of school food as the program has grown. “You’ve all done a remarkable job.” 

    When students were in school, about 16,000 meals were served in February. But by April that number climbed to 20,518 for the month as the district moved forward to deliver bagged breakfasts and lunches at school bus stops for all children in Moab whether or not they attend Grand County schools.

    The staff is continuing to prepare meals that are being offered through June. Anyone can pick up bagged lunch for children between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at Helen M. Knight Elementary.

    The Child Nutrition Program’s kitchen staff at Helen M. Knight Elementary includes Kristi Striblen, manager; Summer York, assistant manager; Jessica Taylor, cook; Rhonda Pitchford, cook; Jeri MacAdams, cook; Laurenda Begay, cook; and Ivy Partridge, cook.

    The kitchen staff at Grand County High School includes Cindy Bleggi, manager; Norma Costanza, assistant manager; Jessica Mason, cook; Shanna Roads, assistant manager; Irene Wagner, cook; and Jessica Walker, cook. 

    Alysha Packard is the director for the Child Nutrition Program and Debra Rappe is the program’s retired director who came back on Jan. 6 to work during the interim this year after a director left mid-year and pursued a new career. Rappe had retired in 2017 as director of the Child Nutrition Program. When asked how she felt about coming out of retirement to lead the program through COVID-19, she said, “To me it was like a God thing, and I felt He called me back to work. I love the kitchen staff. They’re good people to work with,” Rappe said. “I’m so thankful for the whole crew and how the parents recognize how hard the food crew works.”

    Although she thought she would be the interim director for “a few weeks” as the district searched for a replacement, she stayed for four months.

    Packard was hired in May as the district’s new Child Nutrition Program director. She is relocating to Moab from Grand Junction, Colorado, and has 10 years of experience in management and public school nutrition programs. Grand County School District employees said Packard is already bringing a lot of energy to the Child Nutrition Program. 

    “School food is usually underestimated,” Packard said, “but I think this is a great opportunity so families can see how great school food is and how rewarding it is for everybody.” She said COVID-19 has made adapting the Child Nutrition Program interesting and said the staff is already planning ways to serve food when school resumes on Aug. 20. “We’re still here and we’re going to make sure everybody gets fed,” she said. 

      Due to the pandemic, the district’s annual presentation and awards ceremony was canceled. The Child Nutrition Program staff was honored on June 9 at the Grand County School District with Friend of Education awards. 

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