HPS food services gets USDA praise

HOPE – Officials of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service have taken notice of the Hope Public Schools’ meals program as part of the district’s response to the COVID-19 health crisis.

USDA Food and Nutrition Service Acting Administrator Cindy Long offered official praise for the program in a March 11 letter to HPS Child Nutrition Services Director Deanna Gilbert.

“You community’s school nutrition story was shared recently with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) by your State agency as an exemplary representation of how local program operators were empowered to ensure that no child goes hungry during this time,” Long wrote.

The HPS has maintained both on-campus and drive-through meals deliveries to all students in the district who wish to receive them, based upon the district’s free and reduced lunch eligibility.

“Students can’t learn if they are hungry,” Gilbert said.

Long emphasized that type of dedication during the pandemic.

“At the same time, it is abundantly clear that those that work in school nutrition have emerged as local heroes as you navigate an array of challenges and create solutions to meet the nutrition needs of your community,” she wrote. “On behalf of FNS, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation for your hard work and a heartfelt thanks for going above and beyond to ensure our nation’s children continue to receive safe and nourishing meals.”

Gilbert said the success of the program is directly related to the dedication of the district’s food services vendor personnel.

“Hope Public Schools Child Nutrition Department is proud of the letter of appreciation for the hard work and dedication from Aramark Director Sandra Calhoun and her staff to feed the students through all of this pandemic,” Gilbert said. “She has sent weekend meals home to students that want them and a virtual pickup line so every student has an opportunity to receive the meals.”