EAST LANSING – Otsego Public Schools food service workers on Monday provided their 100,000th meal to local families since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The West Michigan school district’s experience is indicative of other districts statewide that are continuing to serve meals to students in need.
“We knew it was going to come at some point today,” Julie Guthrie, Otsego Public Schools food service coordinator, said on Monday. “When our numbers came in this morning, we ended up at 100,031. So we’re excited about that. It’s a good feeling.”
Like most school districts, Otsego has experienced a significant increase in demand from local families during the public health crisis. Food service workers continue working diligently to assemble the meal packages, which contain a mix of fruits, nonperishable dry items such as cereal and breakfast bars, juice and microwaveable foods including chicken patties and waffles.
“We’ve probably spent more hours doing this than we do in a normal school week,” said Carissa Taylor, head cook in her building and co-president of her local union. “It’s been a huge blessing.”
Monday’s milestone is part of an ongoing community effort to ensure all the town’s families have access to healthy, nutritious meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Otsego teachers, support staff, custodians and other employees help assemble the meals and load them onto buses. Local police officers, firefighters and Department of Public Works employees have helped as well.
Friendship Wesleyan Church in Otsego recently donated $500 to provide additional meals to local families in need.
“Every single day, my phone rings or I get emails from parents in the community asking, ‘When can I come help?’” Guthrie said. “Truly, the entire community is involved. You can see that you’re making a difference and that’s what we wanted to do.”