‘True Heroes’: School Food Service Workers Lauded for Efforts During Pandemic

Food Service

As the food service director for Shelby Public Schools, Mary Rose Vanas knew the high stakes some of her students faced when schools in Michigan abruptly shifted to virtual learning last March.  

“As a child who was hungry, my memories are of being reliant on school to get food,” Vanas said, recalling her childhood in Northern Ireland.  

Vanas knows there are children in the Shelby district growing up as she did in poverty and counting on school meals to avoid hunger. Prior to the pandemic, she spearheaded efforts to take advantage of the Community Eligibility Provision, which allows high-poverty districts to serve free breakfast and lunch to all students.

Making sure those necessary meals weren’t interrupted due to the pandemic was personal for Vanas and her team. The radical changes they made to shift from serving in-person meals to operating multiple food distribution pick-up sites were daunting, but vital. Vanas said everyone pulled together to make it happen.   

“My guys are superheroes,” she said of her staff. “They’re really flexible and they saw the need because it’s their community. They live here, it’s their people.” 

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Bitely, Julie. “'True Heroes': School Food Service Workers Lauded for Efforts During Pandemic.” MIBluesPerspectives, 15 Mar. 2021, www.mibluesperspectives.com/2021/03/12/true-heroes-school-food-service-workers-lauded-for-efforts-during-pandemic/?fbclid=IwAR3fJcOYuQmGfzKo6UVhY33kVjC2lpuVjvboSP1kL3IG0oJxrk1HaWcuH4A.