High Five: This one’s for the unsung heroes.

Harrison School District 2 nutrition services field managers Debbie Snapp (left) and Beverly Allen prepare dozens of hot dogs for distribution April 15 at Sierra High School.

For the teams who spend hours each weekday behind the scenes, making sure students’ bodies are as well-nourished as their minds.

Harrison School District 2 Nutrition Services team members have been busy since late March making and distributing hundreds of free meals. They commit themselves, Monday through Friday, to meeting the dietary needs of district students and other Southeast Colorado Springs youths up to age 18.

D2 closed its campuses March 16, in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19. At the time, the closure was expected to last for two weeks, but statewide stay-at-home orders repeatedly pushed back the return date. On April 13, co-superintendents Wendy Birhanzel and John Rogerson announced the district would nish its academic year via remote learning. The 2019-20 school year is expected to wrap on May 21.

When it announced the closure, the district emphasized that it would continue to provide lunches for area kids. Colorado Department of Education statistics show 8,674 of D2’s 11,518 students — that’s roughly 75 percent of the student body — quali ed for free or reduced lunches this academic year. Nutrition services team members at Sierra High School said April 15 that the hot dogs they were serving could be the only hot meal some students ate that day.

“We’re molding our future, we’re taking care of our future,” said nutrition services eld man- ager Debbie Snapp. “By doing this, I’m giving back. It’s not just a job.”

The Sierra team cooks, packages and distributes an average of 250 meals per day, Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, when D2 has been known to partner with Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado to distribute pantry-staple boxes of food to neighborhood families, the meal count can skyrocket to 600.

All that with a team of six people — roughly half of Sierra’s usual culinary staff. At campuses across the district, nutrition services teams have been operating with reduced numbers to protect personnel, while also keeping students’ brains and bodies fed.

Sierra kitchen manager Christine Cole keeps a pair of handmade thank-you cards safely tucked away in a ling folder in her of ce. It’s easy to see how much the messages of gratitude, written in childish hands, mean to her. It’s also easy to see why.

“Thank you for going to work and standing in the rain just to give out free food,” one student wrote. “I really liked the food. Thank you so much.”

It’s hard to say it better than that.

— Regan Foster

To submit an item for the High Five, email a detailed description of the event, including date and location, and photos with identifying information from left to right to features@southeastexpress.org. For more information, call Regan Foster at 719-578-2802.

 

Editor

Founding Editor and General Manager Regan Foster holds dual bachelor's degrees in journalism and Spanish and a master's degree in journalism with specialization in political reporting and media management.