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Foundation donates $15,000 to "Breakfast, Lunch and a Book" for kids and families during coronavirus crisis

The mission of the Cherry Creek School District’s Food and Nutrition Services Department is straightforward.

Christy Dahlen, the coordinator of resources for the department, explained her work in direct terms as she stood at the head of a line of cars in the parking lot of Eastridge Elementary School on March 21. She was one of several district staff handing out meals as part of one of 11 “Breakfast, Lunch and a Book” events running at sites across the district. Along with Eastridge staff who were handing out books for kids in grades K-12, provided by the $15,000 donation from the Cherry Creek Schools Foundation, at the other end of the parking the lot, the Food and Nutrition crew was doing their job; namely, providing essential resources for students.

“We feed kids. We take care of kids. We set them up for success in their education – it’s impossible to learn effectively when you have an empty stomach,” Dahlen said. “This is what we do on a daily basis.”

That work doesn’t end, even in the midst of an unprecedented global crisis. As CCSD students, parents, teachers, staff and administrators alike find themselves reinventing the daily school model under a host of new restrictions, the “Breakfast, Lunch and a Book” events offered a note of normalcy in unprecedented times.

Eastridge’s Principal Amy Cribbs greeted students and parents from a safe distance as she handed out books. Dahlen and the rest of the Food and Nutrition crew offered a variety of healthy breakfast and lunch options to families, a menu that included meat, vegetarian and gluten-free options. Even as they practiced social distancing, and even as the brick-and-mortar school building itself remained closed, the participants came together to create a sense of continuity and community, all while providing essential resources for students.

“Our goal is to help our community get through this crisis with all of the resources they need,” said CCSD Superintendent Dr. Scott Siegfried, who was at Eastridge on a sunny Saturday morning with his wife and kids to help out with the effort. “We cannot take a month or two off when it comes to feeding our kids and giving them the tools they need to learn. We are finding ways to move forward and to create a sense of normalcy.”

The “Breakfast, Lunch and a Book” events will take place Monday through Friday at 11 sites across the district. Thanks to book donations from the Cherry Creek Schools Foundation and thanks to the hard work of staff at the district’s central kitchens, there will be plenty of resources for students of all grade levels and from all parts of the district.

“We’re fortunate to be able to take care of our students and families,” Siegfried said. He took his message directly to those who pulled up for food and books, offering families words of encouragement and reminding the students to “keep reading those books.”

These events are just part of a wider push to keep all students connected with the resources they need during the COVID crisis. Cherry Creek School District Board of Education have been working directly with community organizations and food banks to keep supplies flowing to the community. The district is formulating online learning solutions and dealing with the daily demands of new restrictions and regulations designed to keep all Coloradans safe.

“Things will go on, and we’ll get through this together,” Siegfried said. “We’re partnering with food banks and we’re exploring every option for remote learning. We’ve got to be here for each other.”

To help provide essential nutrition and learning resources to Cherry Creek Schools' students please visit the Cherry Creek Schools Emergency Relief Fund on our website and consider contributing to our cause HERE.

For a full list of “Breakfast, Lunch and a Book” sites and times, please visit www.cherrycreekschools.org/freemeals. For information on Food Banks and other resources, visit www.cherrycreekschools.org/Page/12126.

By Adam Goldstein 

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