Lunch Service Continued Through School Shutdown

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“[T]he program that we're running is actually a version of the national school lunch program summer program that’s already in place,” Beachwood’s Resident Director of AVI Foodsystems Lucy DuHaime said.

The Ohio Dept. of Education encouraged school districts to continue feeding students during the COVID-19 lockdown this spring. 

Beachwood City Schools offered an expanded free and reduced lunch program during the school closure.

Beachwood’s program began on Wednesday, March 18 and provided students with lunches for the week.

“[T]he program that we’re running is actually a version of the national school lunch program summer program that’s already in place,” Beachwood City Schools Resident Director of AVI Foodsystems Lucy DuHaime said in an interview in April. “The state had a set of guidelines for us to start with and they made necessary adjustments, so I took a version of that.”

“Between [Dr. Hardis] and I, we just came up with the best plan together to get the meals to the families,” she added.

Free lunches were available to all students throughout the closure. According to Cleveland.com, the Ohio Dept. of Education directed school districts not to turn away students who do not normally qualify for free or reduced price meals.

“Distributing lunches during our closure is available to all students regardless of whether they qualify for free or reduced lunch or not, so any Beachwood student is entitled to obtain lunch through the distribution.” Superintendent Bob Hardis told the Beachcomber in April. “…The lunches being distributed right now during the closure – they do not cost anybody anything.”

Hardis added that all of the lunches for all seven days of the week were reimbursed by the federal government.

Working mostly by herself, DuHaime made and served roughly 700 lunches a week during the three months of quarantine.”

“Under normal circumstances…the funding for [free and reduced lunch] programs really is federal,” he said. “[T]he same is true for this lunch distribution program but…with more promise of reimbursable funds. So the first change was that we could serve seven lunches per week.” 

DuHaime packaged the lunches and made deliveries three days a week to three locations where families could arrive and pick up the lunches.

“I take the same…truck I use to do lunch deliveries during the school year, and I drive…to two apartment buildings, and then I come back to the high school and serve outside on a table…” DuHaime said. “[C]ars can…drive right up and…all they have to do is give the name and grab the bag [of food].”

“I do it all myself because our volume is low enough that I [can] make the food, I cook the food, package the food…and deliver the food,” she added. “It’s very [doable] for one person, so I had someone help for a few days in the beginning, and then it’s just been myself.”

DuHaime made deliveries on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. She first went to the Vantage Apartments and provided lunches from 10:00 to 10:40. She then went to the Avalon from 11:00 to 11:40, and finally provided lunches at the Shaker Crest entrance of the high school from 12:00 to 1:00.

“She takes out a table, she puts a table skirt on it with the Beachwood logo on it, and she just lays everything out…” Hardis said. “[P]eople come and…observe the physical distancing [that] they should, [and] they take the lunch.”

The lunches consisted of similar food that was served in the BHS cafeteria earlier in the school year.

“[I]t’s a combination of the same things that we serve in the cafeteria on a regular basis, which is some items cooked in-house and some items brought in – very similar to our regular lunch program items,” DuHaime said.

“When we started, [DuHaime] was looking at the inventory that had been left at the high school, and she kind of planned lunches that would strategically use up that inventory so that it wasn’t wasted, and so the lunches at the start had certain things that were already in stock,” Hardis added.

“She does a great job, she is really organized,” he added. “She is managing this program on her own for Beachwood and producing roughly 700 lunches a week because it’s averaging about 100 students [for the program].”

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