School Nutrition in the News!
AS SEEN IN FOOD MANAGEMENT NEWSLETTER OCT 5 2020
Credit: Mike Buzalka
Reacting to a crisis by finding a different way to carry on with the mission is admirable but reacting by turning the situation into a major positive is something else altogether. And that was what the nutrition services team for the Houston County Schools in Georgia did when it turned hundreds of unused cases of pizza left in storage when COVID forced the district to shut down into a community-building initiative that also saved the department tens of thousands of dollars. It is for those reasons that Food Management named the Houston County Schools’ Pizza Pick Up Night program recipient of the 2020 Best Concept Award in the Best Special Event category.
When the Houston County Nutrition Services team left for the day on Friday, March 13, 2020, they had no idea that the district would shut its doors that weekend for the rest of the school year. That decision was made by the district on Sunday the 15th, and the department’s leadership team came to the office on Monday to finalize plans to reorganize service beginning the very next day, March 17th.
After several weeks of operating under the Seamless Summer Option for COVID-19 by making use of several USDA waivers, they sat down to address several other issues that had arisen, namely that of the inventory that was housed in the schools. Items such as whole pizzas had been ready for regular service in March but were no longer practical for current serving conditions.
It wasn’t a minor matter, 411 cases of pizza sat in the district warehouse and another 324 cases at individual school sites, in total representing a sunk cost of nearly $30,000 and a waste of more than 35,000 meals. How to get rid of it? Well, how about a drive-thru pizza night, it was suggested.
“While initially dismissed, it became obvious that we should give [the pizza] to the community,” recalls district dietitian
Lauren Koff. “Families needed this. Waivers were in place to make this possible. And so it came together all at once. We decided on four distribution locations and pizza shuttled to these hubs. We figured out how much food we needed to count eight reimbursable meals per pizza and make it convenient for our families.” TO READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE CLICK HERE
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