Students lunch program reshaped by coronavirus shut down of schools
A local student meal program that typically serves kids at schools has reshaped its service in response to school shutdowns because of the coronavirus.
My Kid’s Lunch, based out of Arvada, is serving students about 12,000 meals — breakfast, lunch, and a snack — a day at multiple locations around the greater Denver area, said Michael Sudak, founder of the program that has been dishing out nutritious eats to students for more than two decades.
Serving lunches to private schools, charter schools, day care sites, head start programs and day camps since 1996, My Kid’s Lunch is currently distributing free breakfasts and lunches in qualifying, low-income areas, serving kids whose families are struggling because of the pandemic and its negative impact on the economy and job markets. Qualifying children who received free lunches at school are still getting essential meals.
“In a way I’m proud, and in a way I’m brokenhearted, that our meal is possibly the best meal they’ll get all week,” Sudak said. “It is fabulous to know we are providing something that is so elementary and important.”
The program, a division of Michael’s Catering of Denver, employs about 60 people and meals are prepared in two commercial-grade kitchens, one in Arvada and the other in Colorado Springs.
Current meal distribution is at more than a dozen metro area sites including in Denver, Aurora, Federal Heights, Thornton, Commerce City, Arvada, Wheat Ridge and Lakewood. For specific site addresses, times and days, go to the My Kid’s Lunch page on Facebook.
The program’s volume was cut by about 50% when concerns about the spread of the coronavirus shut down schools across the state in March. My Kid’s Lunch, which is funded by the USDA through a partnership with a nonprofit sponsor Equal Heart, will run in its current emergency through June 30. Its summer program starts on June 1, so there will be an overlap.
Meals, hot and cold made mostly from scratch, include pasta with meatballs, ginger chicken and veggie stir fry, wraps and sandwiches; along with fresh vegetables and fruits. Drinks include a ginger berry fruit smoothie and immune-boosting ginger tea. Social distancing and other CDC guidelines are followed at program distribution sites and in the kitchens.
“We’re all so sad we can’t go and sit at our favorite restaurant, it’s part of what makes us who we are,” Sudak said. “We’re trying to keep the tradition of dinning, and letting young kids learn what it is to dine and share foods, alive. I’m thrilled to be part of it.”
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