May 25, 2021
Category: Champs

School Food Services Team: Nourishing Our Children

At the 14th Annual Champs Celebration, presented by Kalsec, the School Food Services Team was honored with a 2021 Champ Award which was sponsored by Humphrey Products and Lake Michigan Credit Union. CIS Executive Director James Devers presented the award.

[If you missed this event or want to experience it again, the full live-streamed video is available here throughout May. For the rest of this month, you also have an opportunity to honor one or more champions in your life with a gift made in their name. Click here to honor a champion you know!]

We have always known that the School Food Services Team is an essential part of our mission at Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo. Not only does this team plan, prepare, and provide nutritious breakfasts and lunches for all Kalamazoo Public School students, but for the past two decades they have also worked with CIS staff to provide snacks and meals for CIS after school and special events. “As one of our after school coordinators Katherine Williamson, puts it, “They have always been a truly positive part of caring for our students, both in service and attitude.”

Fourteen months ago, while most of us were sheltering in place, despite all the unknowns, this team stepped out into the quiet world to continue their vital role in feeding and caring for our children. In fact, throughout the nation, school-age children receive 58% of their nutrition through national school breakfast and lunch programs. Whether children come from food insecure homes or not, we have all depended upon them to nourish our children.

Christina Haller, who oversees the team in her role as Resident District Manager, says that it has taken everyone working together to accomplish this feat of providing school meals in the midst of the pandemic. Thanks to her leadership, her team’s dedication and innovation, along with their collaborative mindset to work with us and a host of others—including bus drivers, Kalamazoo Public Schools has been providing these Grab-and-Go meals since last March when schools physically closed.

During a time when child hunger has increased by greater numbers than we’ve seen in this country since the Great Depression, more kids than ever worry about when and where their next meal will come from. Hunger, by its very nature, takes bites out of academic success and impacts learning. It’s harder to focus and pay attention to teachers, and to regulate behavior. Essential workers, these cafeteria staff became every day heroes for our entire community to literally put food on the table for kids, including fresh produce and special treats.

Christina says her team loves the students and that’s why they do what they do. “Working in a school district is very rewarding,” she says, “and you hope that you can make a difference in someone’s life.”

Well Christina, to you and the entire team, let us take one worry off your plate by telling you that you make differences every day. Thank you for nourishing our children before, during, and no doubt after this pandemic is over.

School Food Services team, thank you for empowering kids to realize their full potential in school and beyond.

Christina Haller (right) with KPS/Chartwells Director Ray Gibson accepting the Champ award on behalf of the School Food Services Team.

Come back to Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids this Thursday for a special treat. We popped a quiz on Christina Haller and you’ll learn more about her and the behind-the-scenes work the School Food Services Team puts in for our 12,000+ kids.

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