Packing more than food, students at Pathway School of Discovery are all smiles as they open their grab-and-go meal service bags, containing words of encouragement from school staff. Throughout the coronavirus closure, Pathway has offered meal services for families in the community who may need additional support during these difficult times.
Scholars and their families are welcome to pick up three days’ worth of meals for any child who is 18 years old or under. The meal services began in mid-March, offering vital supply pickup Monday through Friday, providing three breakfast meals and three lunches per bag.
The grab-and-go meal service has been a major success for the school community. “We average 400 breakfast and 400 lunches each day,” said Stephanie Colbert, food service coordinator at Pathway School of Discovery. Since the program began, Pathway has served more than 33,000 meals, including lunch and breakfast, to their community.
This effort joins a greater whole as National Heritage Academies (NHA) has worked tirelessly to provide food to families across its network of schools. To date, the organization has provided just shy of 1 million meals to students and their families.
“National Heritage Academies and Preferred Meals remain committed to partnering to provide children in our schools and communities access to meals during this time,” said Dan Kuk, food service specialist lead at NHA. “To see so many stakeholders react so quickly to enable foodservice during this time truly speaks of the importance and need for these resources.”
Upon seeing the reaction of the families who are utilizing this resource, staff members at the school decided to take it to the next level by adding notes of encouragement to each bag.
“These are uncertain times for all of us, and we wanted to make sure our scholars and families knew we are thinking of them and supporting them in every way we can,” said Colbert.
The notes include brief messages of encouragement, printed with fun decorative pictures. Examples of the messages include:
“Pathway Bobcats: Stay safe – stay strong! We miss you!”
“Pathway, together traveling new paths. Together creating new ways. Stay strong, Pathway! We’ve got this!”
“Mrs. Frantz loves and misses you! High fives and hugs from me to you! Stay active!”
Teachers also became involved by creating hand-written messages to include in the bags. One teacher’s note expressed her desire to see everyone again soon. “Hello, Pathway Families! I hope you all are staying safe and healthy! I miss each and every one of you! You all mean the world to me, and I can’t wait to see your smiling faces again. #PathwayStrong. Love, Mrs. Hayes.”
Another teacher wrote:
“Hello, Pathway Families!
I hope you are doing well. I miss seeing all the kids coming in the front doors each morning. I miss talking with parents out front in the morning. I miss your high-fives and your hugs. I miss helping so many of you with your reading and seeing the rest of you in the classrooms and in the hallways.
Please take care of yourselves, reach out if I can help in any way, and know that we are in this together! Pathway Strong all the way!
Love and miss you all!
Sincerely, Mrs. Maloney”
Colbert has been the driving force behind the encouragement movement at Pathway and continues soliciting notes from staff members. She requests that teachers send her their notes before she prints and transfers them onto colored paper before placing them in the bags.
Pathway’s students look forward to receiving their meal bags and eagerly look for the words of encouragement inside. When they find their note, their faces light up with joy, and their grins stretch from ear-to-ear.
“Parents are very appreciative and let us know they are thankful for the help with the meals,” said Colbert. “We often hear comments about how much their kids are eating while they are at home!”