When Sylacauga City Schools in Alabama were closed until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic, foodservice operators scrambled to create a plan to continue serving meals to students who need them.
Kelley Wassermann, Director of Child Nutrition, Wellness and Communications at the district, and her team created an action plan that included using 40 Cam GoBoxes to help hold meals at safe temperatures during transport. They originally purchased their Cam GoBoxes with grant money for their Breakfast in the Classroom and Fresh Food and Vegetable Programs at their elementary schools.
“We like the durability of [the Cam GoBoxes] a whole lot better than those soft sided boxes for breakfast in the classroom,” said Wassermann. “Both schools use them for both purposes and it’s just great.”
Operating out of a central kitchen, Wassermann brought all of their Cam GoBoxes, Camchillers and Camdollies to be packed and distributed to three curbside Grab n’ Go locations and a bus delivery system. Each day, employees come to the central kitchen, pick up their GoBoxes and bring them to their respective locations.
“Our fourth distribution, we take a school bus through our highest need area and the bus stops at every bus stop and honks the horn. We’ve got a bunch of teachers on the bus and they get off and they distribute the meals to any children that come up to the bus,” said Wassermann.
Each student receives a lunch to eat that day and a breakfast for the next morning.
“Everything is either shelf stable or refrigerated, and this is where those Cambro GoBoxes are worth their weight in gold,” said Wassermann.
Wassermann takes full advantage of the cold-holding capabilities of her Cam GoBoxes by storing a Camchiller inside each unit, stacking them on a Camdolly and rolling them into the freezer overnight. GoBoxes are ready to be packed when meal assembly resumes the next morning. After GoBoxes are fully loaded, Wassermann has taught her staff how to keep food as safe and cold as possible.
“I tell them do not open a box until you’ve completely depleted another one. When they come back in, any leftovers have been temped consistently at around 42°F. They’re out for about an hour. We temp it when it goes out and we temp it when it comes back and it’s fabulous how well these things hold the temp,” said Wassermann.
Sylacauga City School District has 2,100 students, 57 percent of which are provided free and reduced meals. Students are used to receiving these meals at school, and some families are likely used to not having to worry about providing breakfast and lunch during the week. In order to ease that burden, Wassermann made it a personal goal to provide 175 meals to their students. The first day of meal service, Wassermann’s team provided more than 200 meals; their highest day so far provided more than 300 meals.
“I don’t know if people can truly appreciate how much work goes on behind the scenes with this, but that’s not why we do it. The reward came for me Monday [March 23] when I got a phone call from a grandmother who wanted to call and express her appreciation for us doing this…. She was in a hardship and this caught her off-guard and she just called to express her thanks and I made sure the superintendent knew that this is why we do what we do,” said Wassermann.
Schools transporting meals to off-site locations and in vehicles need to ensure food is kept at safe temperatures throughout the process. Cam GoBoxes are designed to be easy to carry, temperature retentive and durable. Contact your Cambro rep for more information about how your school can implement the use of Cam GoBoxes.