One thing that the past two months has shown us is that there are heroes living among us. These Portlanders do all sorts of jobs that are usually completely taken for granted but are now thought of in a different light. A lot has changed in the past few months as the whole world seeks to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us are unemployed, many are working from home, and all of our kids are doing school via distance learning. Now, as we are all doing our bit to help our frontline health care workers “flatten the curve” by staying home and practicing social distancing, these unassuming neighborhood heros have come to the forefront.
One group in particular is the foodservice staff at Portland Public Schools (PPS), employed by Chartwells School Dining. Since schools shut down in person instruction in mid-March, these folks have remained on the job making sure that no child in our community goes hungry. While usually, free school meals are reserved for those with limited financial means, the program has been expanded to any child in our area in need of food. Over the past weeks the way lunchroom staff have distributed food has been reinvisioned from cafeteria trays to a whole week of food at a time delivered by a school bus or van, or dropped in a car trunk. On a recent food delivery day for example they distributed food for more than 850 children.
To thank these unsung heroes, Chartwells, and PPS will literally be turning the tables by treating the folks who usually make lunch for the children of our community to a special Heros Day lunch catered from a local restaurant on May 4th. The lunch will include commemorative t-shirts and certificates of recognition for the food service staff.
According to Food Service Director, Steve Pell, “we at Portland Public Schools in conjunction Chartwells School Dining want to recognize [our] employees for their dedication during the school year and during this pandemic. Our staff is an essential part of a child’s day and they are committed to providing healthful, nutritious meals to the district's students and to the community! We would like to express our deepest appreciation to those valuable team members for their selfless work on behalf of the children!”
Photo courtesy of Audra Pline.