Food service numbers are up in the Chelsea School District. As this school year nears its end, CSD took a quick look this month at how things have been going with the Michigan School Meals program.

In his report to the school board on May 6, CSD Food Service Director Chris Simpson said “Through April, we have served over 220,000 meals this year.”

He said breakfasts served were at 48,800 while at this time last year it was 11,385. Lunches served were at 173,041 while at this time last year it was 116,231.

“We are continuing to average about 60 percent participation across the Breakfast and Lunch programs throughout the district,” Simpson said in his report.

Back before the start of the school year, Simpson sent out a letter to CSD families that as part of the state budget for 2023-2024, the “Chelsea School District is pleased to be able to offer free breakfast and lunch for all students Pre-K to 12th grade!”

Late last summer, the Michigan Department of Education said the state’s 1.4 million public school children would be receiving nutritious free meals at school this year as a result of a $160 million appropriation in the state’s School Aid budget adopted by the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The Department of Education said Michigan School Meals will begin at the start of the 2023-24 school year to provide state reimbursement to schools for every breakfast and lunch served to Michigan’s public school students who receive meals through their school’s participation in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program.

With the increase in numbers comes the question of how is the staff handling it.

“We have 15 employees which means we are averaging almost 15,000 meals per staff member this year,” Simpson said in his report. “They have done it while battling staffing challenges, product shortages, and an insane volume as a result of the Michigan School Meals program. They come in each day and have built meaningful relationships with students, staff, and each other. I am lucky to lead such an amazing team!”

Friday, May 3rd, was School Lunch Hero Day, so CSD took some time out to recognize their staff. They were thanked for their “dedication, hard work, collaboration, and daily support of our students.”

CSD Superintendent Michael Kapolka said the staff is doing an amazing job serving that many at such a high level of service.

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