Winter Brings New Way To Feed Kids

ST. JOHNSBURY - With the new hybrid model that St. Johnsbury school is offering to students in order to deliver them the best education they can give during the pandemic, the school has had to make some adjustments while preparing for the winter months.

St. Johnsbury school has been on a hybrid model of learning since the beginning of the school year. The school has red and white days to accommodate all the students, so students still get that in-school learning they need in order to be successful throughout the school year.

Some students come Monday, Wednesday, and every other Friday. While others come Tuesday, Thursday, and every other Friday. Over the course of two weeks, students are in school five days a week. While learning remotely, the other five days a week.

So far, the school has been successful serving its students through the pandemic. All of this would not have been possible without the help of staff. The school has had to accommodate some new staff as well, to solve some schedule changes.

St. Johnsbury School Board recently made the decision to change their meal program that they offer to students, going from a delivery model, to a pick up model.

"We started to discuss what food delivery would look like in the winter, and particularly on inclement weather days. As we explored further into that conversation we recognized that there may be days where, number one, our staff might not be able to get to the building. But number two, if they may get to the building, they may not be able to deliver," explains Brian Ricca, St. Johnsbury Schools Superintendent.

The Board started to brainstorm what was the best way to get food to the schools children and families, during the winter months. They quickly decided since kids are in the building Monday, Wednesday, and every other Friday, they will be sending kids home with two meals.

"When kids are here, on any given day, if they're in need, or their family is in need, they go home with two meals for the following day. A breakfast and a lunch, even further, if they're not going to be here for a couple of days, they get sent home with the appropriate number of breakfasts and lunch until they are back in the building again," Ricca said.

This model ensures that the food the school has to offer is going home with children. It also ensures that the school does not have to rely on staff to get those meals to kids during the winter. Ricca feels that this model is the best way to go forward, to make sure that staff and students stay safe, in case there are those snowy days.

"I don't want to put my staff members at risk so I want to make sure we have kids here, we are able to send home food so they can be fed on the days they are not here," Ricca explains.

But the school did take extra precautions in case a child needs food and a parent cannot pick up from the school during those snowy days. The school has received a waiver from the agency of education that allows the school to have food delivered on any given day to any family that is in need. Ricca believes that this new model is going to be the best choice for them.

"When you have kids that are here in the building, open up their backpack, or whatever they came to school with. Stuff food in for the next couple days, so what started out as a problem and a question, how are we going to do this? Has turned into a way that I think, we're going to be able to feed more of our families," Ricca says with enthusiasm.

There certainly has been an uptick in how many children need food this year due to the covid-19 pandemic. Ricca is currently working on how many school lunches were given out last year, compared to this year. This information will be shared at the next School Board meeting. He says he does not know the exact numbers, but he is anticipating that results will be higher than last year's numbers.