Cove Scottish Rite Club presents $1,330 donation for student meals
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Cove Scottish Rite Club presented the Copperas Cove Independent School District’s Child Nutrition Department with a check for $1,330 Thursday evening to go towards the department’s Angel Fund and “No Child Goes Hungry” initiative.
Every year, the Cove Scottish Rite Club selects a charitable organization in Copperas Cove to be the recipient of the club’s fundraising efforts. Around this time last year, the club heard presentations from different organizations at one of their meetings at Lil Tex, including from CCISD Child Nutrition Director Melissa Bryan, and from Operation Stand Down Central Texas’ director Joann Courtland.
The members of the club agreed on selecting both the CCISD Angel Fund and OSDCT as the recipients of their fundraising efforts. Their efforts were matched by the Valley of Waco (Scottish Rite), allowing for each organization to receive $1,330. The Cove Scottish Rite Club presented the check to OSDCT earlier this month.
“As it turns out both organizations have an increased need for funding, and we didn’t know that last year because it was about this time last year that we picked the organization that was going to receive it,” said James Hamilton, the club secretary.
The Cove Scottish Rite Club is a benevolent group, Hamilton said.
“This money is going to an organization that feeds children when they’re in school, and sometimes even when they’re not, to my understanding,” Hamilton added. “When we learned about the “No Child Goes Hungry” program, everyone- immediately their radar clicked on, ‘This is perfect.’ We believe that no man stands any taller than as when he Stoops to help another person, and in our eyes a child, so this was a pinnacle for us to achieve something like this for children in our community. I’m just so grateful, although I hate to see it worse like that this year, that these funds are going at this time for this purpose because I know there’s such an increased demand, and we are honored being able to present these funds for that purpose.”
Bryan expressed her gratitude to the Cove Scottish Rite Club for thinking of her department.
“Y’all are the ones that help keep us going for these kids so we just can’t thank you enough,” Bryan said. “You’ll never know how many lives and hearts you’ve touched.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started and schools closed, the CCISD Child Nutrition Department has been providing breakfast and lunch to-go for all children 18 and under, and even implemented what they call “Five-Packs”, which included meals for Saturday and Sunday as well.
“It’s a lot of hard work, and we’ve had to completely reinvent our distribution method because now we’re doing more grab and go and finding ways because packaging is hard [to find] because every state in the nation’s school districts are doing this now, and finding ways to cook and package and wrap and be creative and so this money definitely goes to a lot of the kids here,” Bryan said.
Prior to the pandemic, the district was feeding students universal breakfast and had a policy against pulling trays from students at the elementary and junior high levels.
“So, whether they have money in their account or not, they come through, they get the hot meal that’s served on the menu that day,” Bryan said. “We don’t pull the tray. We don’t give them a separate alternate sack lunch, but we do allow them to go into the negative a little bit, and so that would be a hardship. If we can collect that negative from the parent before the end of the year, great. If we can’t, then we don’t go ask the parent for that money because obviously the family is having a hardship.”
The Angel fund is what is in place to help the families unable to pay their child’s lunch balance.
At the high school level, if a student does not have money in their account, they are given the option of a Smuckers “Uncrustables” peanut butter and jelly sandwich with fruit and milk or a homemade lunchable. These items are also sold a la carte which allows the student to have some privacy regarding their account status. Bryan added that the high school sells about 150 of the peanut butter sandwiches a day.
“For the last two years, we’re probably the only [ district] in Texas that has not made alternate meals or taken food at the high school level for those kids,” Bryan explained.
The department gets reimbursed by the government for each reimbursable meal it serves that meets USDA requirements.
During the pandemic, the district is still receiving reimbursements and having to meet requirements but has been given several waivers by the USDA that allow the district to do its grab and go form of distribution.
“We’re still paying all of our stuff, but our accounts have dropped so low, we’re really going to be upside down, but here’s the good thing- the kids are getting fed, and every child nutrition department in the nation is going to be upside down because they’re all facing the same exact issue that we are,” Bryan said.
The department also stepped up and cooked every meal that was delivered to senior citizens through the Cove Cares program for seven weeks, cooking upwards of 500 meals per day for just these senior citizens, in addition to the meals prepared for students.
“This has been a very rewarding time,” Bryan said. “Our Child Nutrition staff have busted their butts in the way that we jumped back in here and just went non-stop, but that’s just the way that the staff is. They’re going to do it for the kids no matter what.”