As Oklahoma Students Learned At Home, School Nutrition Workers Stepped Up

Jan 4, 2021

Over the course of the pandemic, Oklahoma’s public schools have been a critical piece to fighting child hunger. StateImpact’s Robby Korth reports on the efforts of the state’s schools to get more than 40 million free meals to children while they’ve been learning from home or just out of school.

Jennifer Weber doesn’t mince words: the lunch ladies and men in school cafeterias across Oklahoma are some of the biggest heroes of the pandemic.

"They knew the minute that school was going to be out that there was a need for kids to be fed. And what could they do? They just wanted to know what they could do to continue to feed the kids," said Weber.

Webber, Oklahoma Department of Education's executive director of child nutrition, was in charge of helping schools apply for funds to pay for school lunches. Throughout the pandemic, she’s seen schools take a wide array of approaches to feeding kids.

"If that meant that district was going to deliver meals, they found a way to deliver meals," Weber said. "And we were in an unprecedented time and we still are. The delivery of meals has slowed down, but they still continue to do grab and go."

She says the 40 million meals have been a great success and child nutrition workers will continue to innovate into the new semester where unknowns continue in education.

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