In the days leading up to the March 18 statewide school closure, Sturgeon Bay School District staff, volunteers and students worked to prepare and package more than 7,000 meals to send home with students.
To help curb the novel coronavirus outbreak, Gov. Tony Evers ordered public and private schools to close by March 18. There is no date set for when schools will be allowed to reopen. The World Health Organization declared the virus a pandemic March 11.
“So, when we had [an] indication last week that schools were going to start to shut down, we knew as a district that we needed to be able to provide security for some of the basic needs of our students, and that included feeding them,” said Jenny Spude, food service director for the Sturgeon Bay School District. “So, when students were sent home on Tuesday [March 17], they went home with breakfast and lunch for the next five days.”
The food included items that would have spoiled if not eaten as well as comfort food, Spude said.
Staff, students and volunteers helped with packaging the meals that were then distributed to 700 children.
Going forward, Spude said district employees will deliver food to students’ homes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday with the help of Kobussen Buses, with which the district contracts for its transportation.
Sturgeon Bay Superintendent Dan Tjernagel called the employees’ and bus drivers’ efforts to feed students “truly inspiring.”
“Yes, I think it speaks volumes about the type of person who comes to work for a school district and puts the needs of other people sometimes in front of their own,” Tjernagel said.
Feeding Students around the County
Sturgeon Bay schools are not alone in their efforts to feed students. Door County’s three other mainland schools have plans to distribute food to area children during the coming days. Some districts are offering breakfast and lunch at pickup sites for students 18 and younger. The Washington Island School District does not have a food service program. All of the districts will receive reimbursement for the meals through a federal program.
The Gibraltar, Sevastopol, Southern Door and Sturgeon Bay school districts are being as careful as possible in handling the food and working with the public. These steps include wearing gloves during preparation and delivery, sanitizing surfaces and limiting contact with the public.
The Gibraltar School District will start delivering food March 30, Superintendent Tina Van Meer wrote in a message.
“We will be offering free lunches to any child living in the Gibraltar district,” Van Meer wrote – even those who do not normally receive free or reduced-cost lunches.
The students did not receive food when the district closed March 13, but food director Carla Marr distributed perishable food to local food pantries, she wrote in a followup email.
“We wanted to make sure it would be available to families in our community who need it,” Van Meer wrote.
Lunches will be available at the following fire departments: Gibraltar, 3496 Cty F in Fish Creek; Egg Harbor, 5242 Cty I in Carlsville; Baileys Harbor, 2404 Park St. in Baileys Harbor; and Sister Bay/Liberty Grove, 2258 Mill Road in Sister Bay. The hours will be Monday – Friday, 11 am – 1 pm and 4-6 pm.
The Sevastopol School District plans to deliver breakfast and lunch using school buses “until school resumes,” said Superintendent Kyle Luedtke.
The meals will be dropped off at students’ homes Monday – Friday, between 2 and 5 pm, beginning Friday, March 20, Luedtke said. A note will be sent along with the first meals in case parents or guardians want to opt out of the meal program.
Food will not be delivered on April 9, 10 and 13 because school was not originally scheduled for those days.
Meals for any child – regardless of his or her school district – can also be picked up from 1:15 to 1:45 pm in the parking lot of the Nightingale Restaurant, 1541 Egg Harbor Road in Sturgeon Bay; and at the Carlton Heights Mobile Home Community, 5707 W. Carlsville Road in Carlsville.
The Southern Door School District will offer meals Monday – Friday beginning Monday, March 23. Participants were asked to sign up ahead of time, but there will be extra food at each site for those who missed the signup period, said Superintendent Patti Vickman.
Pick up locations include the Brussels-Union-Gardner fire stations in Brussels and Little Sturgeon Bay; the Southern Door fire stations in Forestville at 110 E. Main St. and in Nasewaupee at 3388 Cty PD; and door eight at the Southern Door School District, 2073 Cty DK in Brussels.
With no date set for when students may return to school, the district plans to meet its students’ “nutritional needs as long as it is necessary,” Vickman said.
Additional Community Help
Since March 17, the Boys & Girls Club of Door County has also been working to feed community members.
“We are already providing over 50 meals and 50 snacks a night and anticipate that the number will grow as people learn about what we are doing,” Brian Stezenski-Williams, the club’s CEO, wrote in an email.
Ready-to-go meals are available to families already, from 2:30-5 pm, at the club’s main entrance (in the back parking lot) at 55 S. 3rd Ave. in Sturgeon Bay. Moving forward, meals will be available 3-5:30 pm at the same location.
The club is working with Door County Medical Center to establish multiple pickup locations beginning March 30, Stezenski-Williams wrote. Additional information about locations will be released soon.
He expects to see an increase in the need for these services during the economic slowdown and possible layoffs that will result from the COVID-19 outbreak.
“I anticipate that we will need funding from multiple sources (private, business, foundations, etc.) in order to come close to meeting the need in our area,” he wrote.
Anyone who is interested in donating or partnering with the Boys & Girls Club should contact Stezenski-Williams at [email protected] or the club’s director of programs and operations, Nicole Champeny, at [email protected]