Since students have not been allowed to go to school, many issues have arisen. Some students get their breakfast and lunch from the school, but can no longer go to the
school for those meals. After the school closed, a survey was sent out to households in the SAU 39 district where a child 18 years of age or younger lived. “The survey was very simple; if a family requested meal deliveries, they receive them.” said John Lash, the district’s Director of School Nutrition, “The meals are free to everyone.”
Volunteers go to Souhegan High School every weekday to pick up breakfast and lunch for students who may rely on the school for their meals. They then deliver the meals to households across Amherst and Mont Vernon to make sure every student is fed. Mark Newton, the Food Services Manager at Souhegan, helps the volunteers load their cars with the food and then sends them on their way to help the community. Lash said, “I was shocked [at the number of volunteers]. The support from the Amherst and Mont Vernon communities is amazing.”
The meals are prepared the same as they would be on a regular school day. “The meals meet the same nutritional guidelines as the National School Lunch Program,” said Lash, although “a much smaller staff is used to prepare the meals, typically the Kitchen Manager at SHS (Mark Newton) and a couple of his crew.” The staff also takes special care to make sure the food is sanitary. Lash stated that they follow “industry standard sanitation practices; changing gloves between tasks, constant washing of work tables and equipment, etc.” to fully ensure the safety of the food and the students. If a student has a dietary restriction, then there are even more precautions: “meals with special dietary restrictions are prepared separately and labeled for the volunteers. We can accommodate any allergies, sensitivities, or dietary lifestyle,” said Lash.
It is very exciting to see the community come together to help each other in this tough time. Despite the troubles we are going through, our community is still able to step up and help those who need it. If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact John Lash at firstname.lastname@example.org.