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School districts across the country are bracing for a challenging fall not knowing exactly what they will be facing. Will students be back in the school buildings? How many? What will schedules be like? Will there be a lot of students remaining at home and doing distance learning?
All of these questions affect district nutrition programs because they are obligated to feed their students, especially students living in poverty. One director facing this challenge acutely is Michelle Drake, director of food & nutrition services for the Elk Grove Unified School District in California.
Drake has spent the past 19 years with Elk Grove US, the last 10 as director. Her program was one of the first in the country to pivot to offering a drive-thru meal service following the district’s shuttering of its schools in early March. The district itself, located adjacent to Sacramento, operates 67 schools, including a charter school, a special education school, an adult education school and four alternative education schools. Enrollment is around 65,000, making it the fifth largest in the state.
In this podcast, Drake discusses the adjustments she made in her drive-thru meal program last spring, the changes made in the district’s summer feeding program and her plans for how to approach meal service for students this fall.