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Food Service Update with Tanya Williams

The FUSD Food Service Team has been critical throughout the pandemic by providing hundreds of thousands of meals to the community.  Now, the team has pivoted to providing meals in schools while still providing community access to food services.  In this episode, we get an update on some of the changes in the food service program, new resources in the works, and why families should still fill out their free and reduced applications.

Zachery Fountain:

Hello and welcome to the Flagstaff Unified School District Update. This is Zachery Fountain. I'm the director of the communications for FUSD.  Today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Tanya Williams, our food service director extraordinaire, from Chartwells K12.  Thank you for being here.

Tanya Williams:

Thanks for having me, Zach.

Zachery Fountain:

So, lots going on.  We have students that are back in school and they are taking advantage of exacting meals that are prepared by our amazing staff who have done a lot of great work preparing thousands of meals throughout the pandemic and making them accessible to families.

Could you provide a little bit of an update about what we are doing?

Tanya Williams:

I definitely will, and I do want to piggyback on that just to say how awesome of a staff I have.  They go above and beyond each day to make sure that our families have the resources they need, and they do it all with a smile.  And so, just a good shout out to all of my lunch ladies and gentlemen, just saying thank you and we appreciate you.

Now, the biggest change is we are having all of our kids back in school.  So, as we talked about before, my food service ladies, especially, have missed those kids like crazy.  With those changes, it means that we had to change the way we have been doing our grab and go (meals).  Normally, our grab and go (program) has been at very specific school locations on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday’s.  And we have just transitioned that to now having buses that sit out front of all 10 elementary schools from the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., with the exception of Leupp where they sit from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.  Those buses are there for parents and community members who have children 18 years or younger, whether they are enrolled in FUSD schools or not to be able to pick up a meal for their child.

On Monday, you will receive Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (meals).  On Thursday, you will receive Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  You will receive breakfast, lunch, and supper for each bag you receive.

Zachery Fountain:

That’s great.  That’s an amazing resource for again, children under the age of 18 who are not attending FUSD schools in person.  So, if we have remote learners, it’s important to know that you still have access to that food resource.

So, for those students that are in person, it’s also a really busy time in terms of our school and providing meals as well.

Tanya Williams:

It is.  And each school is set up a little bit differently based on their principal and what really works for the size of their cafeteria.  But the fun thing is that when the kids go to school, we are actually providing them with a free breakfast and a free lunch if they’d like to receive it.  We are working at next week rolling out free snacks and then the week after that even, a free supper.  We want to make sure that all the resources that we have available in our grab and go program are available to our students who are back in school as well.

Zachery Fountain:

Wow.  That’s a lot of meals that are going to be accessible to families.  I know that this opportunity for free meals for students that attend classes is something that’s different from previous years.  There is not an application to access these resources.  It’s really that students that are going (in-person) are going to have access to a meal.

Tanya Williams:

Yes.  And while there’s no application to access those resources, I will say that it is still a great time to get in your free and reduced applications because the government is doing their pandemic EBT.  And with that, they are basing it on whether or not your child is on the free and reduced lunch program.  So now is a good time to get that application in.

Zachery Fountain:

Still, that’s great, because those resources are going to be available throughout the summer.  And, so, families that need to have that resource, but maybe have some different circumstances during the summer.  In terms of what they’re doing, they’re going to be able to access those funds.  So, it sounds like your team has a lot going on in terms of managing those federal programs and dotting all the I’s and crossing all the T’s.  And thank you for all the work you do to help bring food security to our community.

Tanya Williams:

That is our main goal is to make sure that we are providing for those in need.  I will also say that we’ve partnered with the Flagstaff Family Food Center, and you find on our website, times and locations where you can actually pick up food boxes for your entire family and not just your children’s resource.

Zachery Fountain:

Amazing work being done by the FUSD Nutrition Services Team.  Thank you again.

Families who are interested in what meal service looks like for the school week ahead, it is important to check either www.fusd1.org or follow us on Facebook at Flagstaff USD, and we’ll have a list of the food that is going to be available next week.  Tanya Williams, thank you very much for being here today.

Tanya Williams:

Thank you, Zach.