Number of meals distributed to Oklahoma City Public Schools students shows schools provide much more than education

April 20, 2020

Difficult times bring out the best in many people, and our current situation is proving this in so many ways. We have read and seen so much well-deserved recognition of our health care workers. What they are doing 24/7 is remarkable and the kudos they are receiving doesn’t begin to cover the gratitude they deserve.

There are some additional unsung heroes in our community who are also saving lives. The Student Nutrition Services employees of Oklahoma City Public Schools are working in ways that likely never occurred to them prior to three weeks ago. Oklahoma City Public Schools leadership nimbly developed a plan to provide meal service for students once it was determined that school would be closed for the remainder of the regular school year.

Nutrition services workers were called in to prepare and distribute breakfasts and lunches to students at school sites throughout the district. During the week after spring break, more than 82,000 meals were distributed. Some amazing comparisons were made that first week: A total of 14,000 meals were distributed during last summer’s eight week break and a total of 21,400 during the two week teacher walk out last spring.

Since that first week, the numbers have continued to grow. Last week more than 136,000 meals were distributed and that was just Monday-Thursday.

    As of this writing, the week three total looks to be nearly 160,000 meals being distributed at 40 sites. The astounding numbers indicate the needs our families have, as well as the vital role our schools play in doing much more than educating our children.

    The Student Nutrition workers are heroes who show up five days a week to be sure our students are able to eat. They show up no matter the weather. They stand outside in wind and cold and rain distributing meal bags to cars driving through or to students walking up. They show up to provide food to fill hungry stomachs, but also to provide a friendly wave and a warm smile that fills hearts with much needed encouragement during a very difficult time.

    Superheroes come in many forms and do not always wear capes. Ours wear masks, gloves, aprons and hairnets.

    Read Foundation President and CEO Mary Mélon's original Oklahoman editorial.