Schools buses drop off meals instead of children

NOW: Schools buses drop off meals instead of children

BUCHANAN, Mich. - In a town now known as the nicest place in America, it’s easy to see that being nice is second nature for Buchanan residents.

“It goes right along with what we do and as supporting the needs of our students and supporting the needs of our family," Patricia Robinson, the Superintendent of Buchanan Community Schools said.

As local coronavirus case counts rise, and Michiana schools close, school staff are still working to get food on children’s plates.

"We're offering delivery of food to families in Buchanan," Becky Kaltenbach, the Food Service Supervisor said.

The idea started two weeks ago when schools switched to remote learning. 

“We realized that parents were not able to come and pick up food for their kids as easily as maybe they could have before because they were quarantining or their kids had to be in a zoom meeting," she said.

And what’s on the menu? Everything from corndogs and potatoes for lunch to fruit, cereal bars and milk for breakfast the next day.

It’s packed up every morning, put into school buses and is sent off.

“We've had para pros help. We've had an assistant principal from the high school came and rode the bus with us one day, some of the maintenance guys are helping. So it's really involved a lot of people," she said.

A simple knock on the door and the food is dropped off right into the hands of Buchanan families.

“You know, kids are excited, they're waving in the windows," she said.

“Cute trays all bagged up. And all you have to do is take it out the bag and eat," Robinson said.

Like in the hands of the Tibbles.

"So it's kind of weird looking out my window going, oh, look lunches here," Natalie Tibble, an 8th-grade student at Buchanan Middle School said.

Although it’s something new and just a little strange...

"It's kind of weird. Just seeing the buzz in the neighborhood and like them coming up to our door and dropping off food for us," Madeline Tibble, a 6th grader at Buchanan Middle School said.

The Tibble family, like many, are thankful.

It's something that worried them two weeks ago.

“Just a little because I mean, that's how we've been going all year so far, to make things a little easier on us," Natalie said.

One of the best parts? It means school staff can continue to work even with schools closed down.

“The bus drivers were gonna be without anything to do, as well as a lot of my food service employees. There's just not as much to do so I thought, let's keep people working. Let's keep kids fed. And we just decided to try it," Kaltenbach said.

“It's so cool. It keeps them busy. And it just makes me smile, but they're still doing stuff for us. And it probably makes their day a lot just to see us and still delivering us food," Natalie said.

And it helps that the faces at the door ae familiar, even if the smiles are hidden by a mask.

“It's been fun, because some of them have their same bus driver, too. So it's a little sense of normalcy," Kaltenbach said.

The program delivers 380 meals each day but the importance of each meal - is known - even by 11-year-old Isabella Tibble.

“I think it's kind of nice, especially for those who can't really afford lunches," she said.

“This is a rough time for everyone at all levels. And we want to make sure that our kids, our students are well-fed, and that they receive instruction. So anything that we can do to help on that and alleviate some of the worries of parents, we wanted to make sure that we were able to do that," Robinson said.

“It's very, it's very heartwarming, makes you feel good makes you feel you really see an impact about what you're doing when you've got kids, you know, waving to you and saying, oh, thank you so much. And we had little kids telling us that this was the best lunch they ever had, which was cute. So the kids, the kids have really liked it," Kaltenbach said.

Buchanan Community Schools is not the only district going above and beyond for its students. So on Thursday, our Learning Curve team is going to Coloma, Michigan to see how they are getting food to students and we’re going to learn about child hunger and the effects the pandemic has on that very important issue.

As always if you have any questions or want our team to take a look at your school email us at [email protected]

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