Geary County Schools receive state recognition for school meals during pandemic

TOPEKA, Kan. – Geary County Schools USD 475’s Central Kitchen has received recognition from the Kansas
State Department of Education for the staff’s heroic efforts in feeding the students during the COVID-19
pandemic since March of 2020.

When the pandemic struck, the staff quickly navigated the challenges faced to have to-go breakfast and lunch meals ready for the students, while also ensuring the students were healthy and ready to learn.

“We had to figure out what we could serve that they can grab and go, because at that time most of the meals we served hot and they weren’t really made to do that,” said Shelly Gunderson, director of child nutrition for the school district.

Shelly Gunderson, Director of Child Nutrition for Geary County Schools USD 475

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the kitchen served approximately 5, 058 students a day.

“The response of our Central Kitchen staff has been nothing short of amazing. We were called back on Friday of spring break a year ago, and by Tuesday of the following week the food service program was up and running at multiple locations across the district,” Chief Operations Officer David Wild said. “To this day the dedicated staff of professionals have not looked back while continuing to ensure the nutritional needs of our children are met.”

Simultaneously, the staff helped feel local, struggling day cares meals for their children.

The staff also received the Kansas State Department of Education’s Sunflower Spotlight for their work serving students breakfast and the positive impact it made.

“It’s good because breakfast is important, that they start the day off,” Gunderson said. “The educational aspect of it, it’s showing that kids that eat in the morning do better in school.”

For more information about Geary County Schools USD 475 Child Nutrition Department and the meals they serve, click here.

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For inquiries, please contact Lindley Lund, Marketing and Media Specialist for Geary County Schools USD 475.