One year later: More than 1.8 million meals served!
One year later: More than 1.8 million meals served!
Posted on 03/17/2021
Food Service StaffOn Friday, March 13, 2020, the State of Michigan made an unprecedented decision to help mitigate the spread of a virtually unknown deadly virus; schools were directed to close their buildings. Utica Community Schools immediately went into action, converting in-person programs to continue remotely.  UCS Food and Nutrition Services was no exception.

In three short days, by Tuesday, March 17, a district-wide remote food distribution plan was in place, to serve free healthy meals to our community for all children 18 and older.  Distribution sites went up at 14 UCS schools and community sites, with COVID-19 protocols in place, offering no charge, to-go meals for all students regardless of where they went to school or if they qualified for food assistance. 

“We recognize the direct link between student learning and nutrition, and thanks to the extraordinary work of our food service team, we did not miss a beat when it came to providing nutritious meals to families,” Interim Superintendent Robert Monroe said.  “Our district remains committed to supporting the needs of our students and providing core services during this global pandemic.” 

During those initial weeks, the community reached out asking “how can I help” and providing assurances that food distribution information would be shared with neighbors who depended on the service.  It was certainly a heartwarming reminder of how this school community always cares for each other. 

“On that first day, we had no idea how many meals we would need,” said Mandy Sosnowski, Director of Food and Nutrition Services at UCS. “The cars kept coming and we kept making more food.  People were so happy to get the meals, some even cried. After that, there was no doubt; we were doing the right thing for our community.”

As the pandemic continued, UCS food service workers, who usually serve students inside school cafeterias, found themselves distributing meals in 90 degree plus heat or blinding rainstorms.  Through it all, over 1.8 million meals have been served by a team of heroes who don’t wear capes – but proudly wear aprons.

Funded by the USDA, the free meal waivers were introduced in March 2020 due to COVID-19, which allowed schools the flexibility to feed students.  Recently the USDA extended the waivers through this summer.

In Macomb County, one in six children suffer from food insecurity, and school districts know that a hungry student cannot learn well.  While the needs of our families continue to change, UCS will be there to meet those needs and help support all students’ through their learning process.

For more information on UCS Remote Food Service, visit www.uticak12.org/remotefoodservice