• kheartle

There’s Love in that Lunch

Updated: Jun 3

Students in rural Knox County aren’t getting breakfast and lunch at school these days. But that doesn’t mean they don’t get those meals. Thanks to the local school districts, the Regional Office of Education, and some terrific volunteers, kids are still getting fed. According to Regional Superintendent of Schools Jodi Scott, the Knox County schools outside Galesburg have been serving more than 1,100 meals each day to help local students.

Around the county there are more than 15 pick-up locations for students to get a lunch, and often breakfast too. In Williamsfield, the location changes each day of the week to ensure that kids can get to the meal site. In Abingdon-Avon's school district, there is a site in each town. Around the county, students, staff, and educators are all pitching in to help where they can. For educators helping parents of toddlers, that also may mean bringing diapers along from the Diaper Bank.

ROWVA In the ROWVA school district, food service coordinator Julie Storm organizes the food distribution program and coordinates volunteers to help hand out meals. Administrators, teachers, and community volunteers have been serving meals since March 13. Up to 80 meals are distributed each day – along with other essentials and lots of love.

The ROWVA district is made up of five towns, and the meals are delivered to each town daily for pickup. Students and parents have a designated place in each town for their meal pick-up. Each student is given that day’s lunch, along with breakfast for the next day. The distribution crew – which includes administrators, teachers, and community volunteers – also carries such essentials as toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, and shampoo for students. These other essentials were donated by the National Honor Society (NHS) of ROWVA High School.

ROWVA Superintendent Joe Sornberger says the food distribution has been successful thanks to the dedicated volunteers who show up each day and give from their heart. “This group has stepped up from day one to help the students of the ROWVA School District and has not wavered,” explains Sornberger. He also credits the NHS students who recognized the need in their community and provided funding for the personal products.

Knoxville In Knoxville, the food service director, Diane Ratermann, also coordinates the work, ensuring the program can continue through the end of the year. In April, Knoxville students started receiving a hot entree about four days a week, which has – not surprisingly – been a huge hit. A dedicated group of five prepare meals with Diane in the kitchen. Then the meals are served “drive-through” style at the high school. Approximately 5-10 volunteer teachers, staff, and administrators take orders, then hand drivers meals as they drive through the circle drive at the high school. The effort provides between 700 and 800 meals a day, which includes both lunch and breakfast. Knoxville hit their high mark at 933 meals last week.

“We have been so blessed,” explains Knoxville Superintendent Steve Wilder. “As soon as Gov. Pritzker announced the closure was extended, the sign up was full immediately.”

Wilder adds that he just found out about two staff members who also have been delivering 50-70 meals a day in their own separate effort. “I’m so proud of how everybody has come together to help each other!” Wilder adds.

Knox County sure has a lot to be proud of.


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