“Children in our school communities may not always have access to healthy food in their homes and our goal has always been to provide as many meals as possible to children, whether they are physically in school or distance learning,” shares Amanda Lanfré, KIPP SoCal Public Schools Associate Director of Regional Operations. For that reason, all meals are free for all children at KIPP SoCal’s Grab-and-Go Meal Distribution sites.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in March, KIPP SoCal Public Schools partnered with healthy school meal provider Revolution Foods, non-profit meal sponsor Our Little Helpers, San Diego Unified School District, and together we have provided 1 million meals to local families in efforts to combat food insecurity across Los Angeles County and Southeast San Diego.
Get a behind-the-scenes look at what happens during one of our community Grab-and-Go Meal Distribution days — shared by our team member, Beatriz Cervantes, Business Operations Manager:
8:30-9:30 a.m. — ARRIVAL
The Revolution Foods team — a KIPP SoCal partner — arrives at our KIPP school, completes temperature checks, and signs in for the day. They grab their PPE equipment such as gloves and hand sanitizers. They then head over to the cafe area and they review their paperwork to ensure we received all the food items that the schools ordered (quantity and type of meals, milk, fruits). If they are short, which doesn’t happen often, this is the time they contact their supervisor to arrange for missing items to be brought to the site.
9:30-10:30 a.m. — MEAL PREP
During distance learning, food is unitized — the Revolution Foods team creates meal packages for families to pick up. This means that on Tuesdays they put together bags with two days worth of meals for each child — two breakfast entrees, two lunch entrees, two supper entrees, plus milks, fruits/vegetables for breakfast and lunch. On Thursdays, they create a bag with three days worth of meals for each child. Of course, they ensure they are socially distancing while doing this. As they finish putting together the bags of meals, they load them on a large cart and leave the carts inside the air conditioned cafe.
Note: Meal accommodations are also sorted into bags and available when requested by the families that drive up.
10:30-11:00 a.m. — SET UP
Our operations team works to set up the meal distribution that runs smoothly and flows while ensuring that everyone at the school site is following the health and safety protocols. In other words, each Tuesday/Thursday they double check that the canopies, tables, and cones are in place and that any signage reminding families to wear a mask are refreshed, if needed. The tables that are under the covered canopies are cleared with disinfecting wipes each service day to ensure they are cleaned. Our canopies typically stay outside and do not need to be set up each meal distribution day.
11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. — MEAL DISTRIBUTION
Aside from receiving health and safety measures in digital school newsletters, families enter the campus and they see a traffic display board reminding them that a face mask must be worn and they should not leave their vehicles. Note that since September, all KIPP SoCal schools have been providing meals for children under the age of 18, even if they are not enrolled at the school they are visiting. Having said that, parents no longer need to display their Lunch Pin Placards on their dashboards. Vehicles form a line and queue up towards the front of the Cafe.
Our Operations Aides and Servers work to remind families queuing up that they need to wear a face mask and open their trunk as they pull up to the front of the cafe. All servers are posted in front of the cafe under canopies — socially distanced. Once the vehicle arrives at the front of the cafe, our Servers load the bag(s) of food into their trunk or back seat depending on the needs of the family.
1:00-2:30 p.m. — CLEAN UP/DEBRIEF
An Operations team member stays at the school gate until the last car leaves, to ensure the gate is closed behind the last car. Then KIPP Operation Aides fold any tables and/or chairs that need to be taken back inside the cafe; they grab their bins; wipe down with disinfecting wipes any radios, bins, and pens/sharpies used and place them in the operations aides cubbies ready for next distribution. They restock on cardstock and sharpies as needed. Meanwhile, Revolution Foods and Our Little Helpers break down any cardboard boxes and toss them in the white recycle bins; they take out all the food trash out of the cafe; ensure all tables and fridges are clean and ready for the next distribution. If too many meals are left over, they report that to the Server Supervisor and BOM. Finally, the team debriefs and shares any feedback to ensure a safe and smooth meal distribution.
Cervantes adds, “With this pandemic much has changed and while we cannot fully see all our KIPPsters and families faces, during meal distribution, we can see in their eyes a little shine and happiness to be out of the house, away from their screen, and seeing familiar faces they have not seen in a while.”
We have been overwhelmed by the support of all of our partners and team members that have helped KIPP SoCal provide one million meals to our families during this unprecedented time — without them this wouldn’t be possible. Check out the following meal distribution highlights and the motivation from some of our team members:
KIPP SoCal Public Schools will continue providing free breakfast, lunch and supper to families throughout Southern California for the remainder of the school year. Lanfré concludes, “Our strong belief that ‘healthy, successful students help build strong communities’ is now more important than ever and will continue to guide our meal distribution efforts throughout this pandemic and beyond.”
Any community member with a child under 18 can receive healthy meals at 16 of our LA County KIPP SoCal school sites, Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. or 3:30-5:30 p.m., and Monday-Friday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in San Diego. For site specific details, visit www.kippsocal.org/updates/meal-program.