TUPELO • The eighth annual School Lunch Hero Day on Friday, May 1, comes at a time when school nutrition workers are more valued than ever as they work to provide meals to children during a global pandemic.

Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton and Tommie Lee Ivy, president of the Lee County Board of Supervisors, signed a School Lunch Hero Day proclamation recognizing the “men and women who prepare and serve school meals” to help nurture local children with their daily interaction and support.

“These men and women have served on the frontlines in our communities ensuring that our children are fed during the uncertain time of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the proclamation reads.

Valerie Weivoda, director of Child Nutrition for Lee County School District, said that as of April 24, the district has served 51,274 meals during the 23 days meals have been served since March.

There are around 60 employees involved with preparing and distributing meals across Lee County Schools.

Lee County’s grab-and-go meal distribution takes places on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon at six sites throughout the district. More information can be found at www.leecountyschools.us/covid-19-coronavirus.

Meal distribution will continue through May 20, the regularly scheduled last day of school, Weivoda said.

TPSD superintendent Dr. Rob Picou encouraged everyone to remember the brave people going the extra mile on School Lunch Hero Day.

“I still remember that lady in elementary school who used to load those green beans on my tray,” Picou said. “The school cafeteria is still my favorite place to hang out in a school. During this COVID 19 crisis, our cafeteria staff and our bus drivers have been on the front line making sure children who are hungry still get a good meal.”

Tupelo’s meal delivery and grab-and-go services, in partnership with the Tupelo-Lee County Hunger Coalition, resumed on Tuesday, April 28, after having been suspended earlier in the month due to a transportation employee testing positive for COVID-19.

The district improved security and safety efforts for all parties involved and will distribute meals on Tuesdays and Thursdays via grab-and-go at Lawndale Elementary and by four buses and a van throughout the city. More details can be found at tupeloschools.com/covid-19-updates.

Tupelo has served 16,000 meals so far and its meal distribution program will continue through May 22.

Both Lee County and Tupelo Schools will feed any child under the age of 18.

“They can drive from Nettleton, they can drive from New Albany,” Weivoda said. “We will feed anyone, and so with a lot of school districts not feeding and closing down and postponing feeding due to various reasons, it has served an even greater purpose for us to stay open.”

blake.alsup@journalinc.com

Twitter: @AlsupTheWriter

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