By: David J. Detweiler, Writer / Follow South Jersey Child Welfare Intern
SEWELL, N.J. — The Gloucester County Vocational-Technical and Gloucester County Special Service school districts continue servicing those in need as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.
Since the coronavirus’ impacts were first felt in the United States back in March, the Gloucester County Institute of Technology’s Food Service and Nutrition Department has given out more than 26,500 meals across the region. The department has provided meals in bags with enough food for up to a week. The department believes that giving children in the community with nutritionally balanced meals in a friendly environment will result in increased success as a student.
“This situation was a rewarding challenge to help in this crazy new world,” Chef Stephen DePasquale, the director of the program, said. “I am grateful that the district opened up this opportunity for the families.”
The Food Service and Nutrition department operates in a full-service cafeteria during the school year to help kids out. Their staff consists of people who are trained for receiving and prepping food, cashiering, serving meals, customer service, and food safety. Without the help of General Funds Support, this meal program is kept running through funds provided by meal sales, a la carte sales, State/Federal reimbursement, and catering.
Food and Nutrition Services has made sure to follow through with serving children with healthy meals as well. The department uses some of the most nutrition-packed ingredients that can be found to make its meals. These meals include contents such as fresh fruits and vegetables, locally-sourced bread, low-fat proteins, whole grain pastas, and hormone-free milk.
Parents and students usually influence the choices of meals, and the menu follows all USDA guidelines for the number of calories, sodium, and saturated fat in their meals as well.
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This article was produced by a Follow South Jersey news intern thanks to a grant provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the New Jersey Health Initiatives program to create hyper-local news to meet the informational and health needs of the City of Bridgeton, N.J.