A-P, D-NH provides meals during coronavirus shutdown


A photo of the fruits, vegetables and sandwiches served for Dike-New Hartford’s first post-shutdown meal last Thursday. (Photo courtesy of Justin Stockdale)
By: 
Robert Maharry
Eclipse News-Review

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AREA - The Coronavirus threat has shut down school districts across the state for at least four weeks, but students who need meals won’t be going hungry at Aplington-Parkersburg and Dike-New Hartford in the meantime.

Both districts are offering free meals from Monday to Friday for anyone up to the age of 18 (by FDA rules, they must include each of the five major food groups), with various pickup locations across the five primary communities that comprise them. Although the situation has rapidly evolved and changes by the day, culinary staff members at the districts are doing their best to keep up.

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School lunch details

A-P: Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-noon, one lunch, per child age 1-18, per day. Lunches picked up at Aplington building and Parkersburg high school building. Pull up to the building and await further instructions. No paperwork or identification required.

D-NH: Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at New Hartford Elementary and Circle Drive at D-NH High School; Monday-Friday, 11:30-12:30 p.m. at Dietrick Trailer Park Main Office and Stout Fire Station.

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“It kind of threw us for a loop because everyone was expecting to work (last Monday), and now we’re not working,” A-P High School head cook Cindy Stroh said. “The food director and I have been working (and) trying to make sure that kids get fed and trying to keep in touch with our staff so that they know what’s going on if we need them.”

At A-P, the meals will be served on a daily basis from the high school and the Aplington campus, and Stroh has already heard from at least 140 people inquiring about the availability of the meals. They started serving on Monday after receiving government approval and plan to continue until classes resume.

So far, they’re focusing on cold meals to simplify preparation, and meals are being delivered in a drive-up fashion for families that need them. At the present time, A-P is not offering breakfast but may do so if the closure lasts longer than expected.

D-NH started even earlier, serving its first meals last Thursday, and has set up pickup spots in Dike (the school building), New Hartford (also the school building), Stout (the fire station) and the Dietrich Mobile Home Park along Highway 20. Each day that students come by, they get breakfast for the day following, and adults can purchase meals at a cost of $2 for breakfast and $3 for lunch.

According to foodservice director Angie Callan, D-NH served 122 meals on the first day and 172 on the second day. Anyone with questions is encouraged to contact her at angie.callan@dnhcsd.org. She added that the district may mix in some hot meals this week as the program takes off and grows in the future.

As the Coronavirus pandemic has escalated around the country and basic necessities have become scarce in some areas, Stroh told the Eclipse News-Review that she hopes it will help others to appreciate the work she and others like her do.

“I know sometimes it seems like we’re undervalued… because we’re always there. People don’t think about us all the time,” she said of foodservice workers. “It’s not like we’re teachers or doctors and have all these huge degrees, but we are important. If we’re not there, who’s going to feed the kids?”

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