Newark Board of Education hits millionth meal mark in food distribution

NEWARK, NJ — When the decision was made to operate school remotely on Friday, March 13, as a result of COVID-19, the Food and Nutrition Services Department, with the leadership of Executive Director Tonya McGill, had one goal in mind — to have 5,000 meals prepared and ready for distribution on Monday, March 16.

“Food Services has always strived to serve Newark’s children and families as best we can,” McGill said. “We understand that circumstances aren’t always ideal, so it remains our duty to make sure the children of Newark are always fed and well. We were able to do so during this pandemic with help from our amazing kitchen staff and everyone who came together to ensure that meal distributions did not stop, even when remote instruction began.”

Not long after the decision was made, Food Services rounded up its employees and got to work during the course of that first weekend. Making it a priority to stay consistent with supplying meals to the schools and children of Newark, they created menus, placed orders and used what was already at their disposal to get the job done.

Now, seven months later, they’ve added two new locations to the distribution sites and have reached an incredible milestone of more than one million meals distributed. As of today, more than 1.2 million meals were distributed to the students and families in Newark. 

“We, as a school district, pride ourselves in distributing over one million meals during a time such as this one,” Superintendent Roger Leon said. “This stands as a testament to what we are willing to do to ensure that our students are taken care of, no matter what. I am proud and grateful to the food service staff specifically, and to the custodial and security staff for their resolve in these efforts.”

The Food and Nutrition Services Department faced its fair share of obstacles making this millionth mark a grand feat. 

“The food services staff had no choice but to become creative and resourceful. We overcame whatever we had to in order to get the kids fed,” said Jayson Shaw, director of Food Services.

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