A Day in the Life: Snapshot of Meal Distribution at KIPP SoCal Public Schools

A Day in the Life: Snapshot of Meal Distribution at KIPP SoCal Public Schools

“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:

"I wanted to help. In times of uncertainty, I feel the need to put my fear towards tangible actions that help other people. It was important for me to step up where I could, given my own privileges that insulated me from a lot of the struggles our families were going through." —Darcy C.
"With all of the uncertainty of this year, I was grateful to have the opportunity to connect with our KIPP SoCal team and family. So many special moments! At Pueblo, we would play music and sing as we packed meals- early 2000s R&B radio was the karaoke plug (shout-out to Tessa, Tania and Henry!) They made the process so enjoyable." —Katie C.
"My motivation is seeing the families, the smiles, and the overwhelming amount of gratitude when they pick up meals." —Kayla F.
"My favorite moment has been when parents come by with homemade ‘thank you’ cards their kids made for the team." —Melissa F.
"During difficult times I think it's important to practice self-care and find opportunities to be of service to others. Volunteering with meal distribution gave me a sense of purpose during some tough months. It was the highlight of my week, every week." —Dan G.
"All their smiles are what motivates me! There's parents that are really in need during this pandemic." —Roxsana G.
"I am proud to be part of a team that works together for the community. Being able to bring some relief to families during these unprecedented times is a great joy." —Vanessa G.
"What motivated me to volunteer with KIPP SoCal's meal distribution was an overwhelming sense of gratitude to be healthy, safe, and working for an organization taking a human-first approach to the pandemic. Working alongside my KIPP SoCal teammates and seeing so many smiling eyes behind masks made meal distribution a highlight each week." —Kaitlyn H.
"I chose to volunteer because access to food is a need for our students, families and communities, especially during this pandemic. I knew this support was now more important than ever." —Jasmin L.
"I like knowing that parents are able to come get food for their families and they won’t go to sleep hungry." —Jennifer L.
"I volunteered because of the high percentage of families in my community that were left without jobs and even food! I remember providing meals to a single mother with eight children. They thanked us from a distance by yelling, "Thank you, Miss! Thank you for feeding us and helping my mommy!" —Mirna M.
"When the pandemic shut our schools down, we were yearning to find ways to be able to still support our community beyond distance learning. I found that going on site to help with meal distribution allowed us that opportunity to see our families again, provide meals and greetings, and engage with even more of our community than we had before." —Jennifer P.
"Growing up, I was that student who depended on my school meal service for breakfast and lunch. Knowing that schools were shut down, stores were running low in inventory, and some families could not work — I knew it was my duty to ensure that our kids and community had a meal on their table." —Ana R.
"Supporting our KIPPsters and their families means going beyond the classroom. When COVID started, I wanted to ensure our families still had access to meals they may rely on." —Chris R.
"It's always a pleasure to help others. During these difficult times, I believe everyone deserves a helping hand — not only that, but also a smile of hope." —Jessica R.
"Seeing our team and family come together to help our community is always a great time. One of these days after we finished preparing the meals, we put on some music and served our community as they drove by to pick up meals." —Samantha R.
"When you see the joy and appreciation in families faces when picking up meals, you understand the importance. Seeing this and being able to help Ms. Oli is my motivation." —Yessie R.
"There was one day where we had a higher than normal volume —I think we distributed close to 1,000 meals. The teamwork that happened in that moment was incredible. Every single person gave 110% and jumped into action wherever needed. Everyone just filled in where needed to make sure we could package and distribute food as safely and efficiently as possible." —Belen S.
"I volunteered in the very beginning of meal distribution because we needed help ensuring it ran smoothly! I wanted to help give meals to our families, kids, and community, while also being a familiar face for them to let them know we are still here for them! My favorite moment was when we were approved to distribute meals to families, even if they weren't enrolled at our school. I want our school to be a positive and resourceful place for our community, in which we work together, and being able to do that was a great way to reinforce that." —Erin S.
"I love seeing the families get excited." —Viviana T.C.
"My favorite moment is any time I get to pack and run the lunches, because it has been very therapeutic for me during this time." —Carmen V.
"Volunteering in the meal distribution brings joy to my heart. I am able to support our KIPP:SOCal family! I miss them." —Narvy V.

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.