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Keeping Kids Fed

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Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been no scarcity of individuals and industries which have needed to pivot to accommodate these unprecedented circumstances. Schools are one of many sectors which have wanted excessive flexibility.

From in-person to distanced to hybrid studying — or some mixture of the three — faculties have had to determine the way to safely and successfully educate. And with so many kids counting on college meals as their predominant supply of nutrition, they’ve wanted to seek out methods to soundly proceed to feed them, too.

The Life Time Foundation, the nonprofit and charitable arm of Life Time, has partnered  with college districts throughout the United States since 2011 to assist present nourishing meals to college students. Their main efforts encompass eradicating substances of concern— often called the “Harmful 7” — from college meals.

While that’s nonetheless very a lot the mission of the Life Time Foundation, the group noticed new wants come up from their district companions this yr. So, like many people, it pivoted to direct its time and funds to the place it’s presently wanted most.

We spoke with Valeria La Rosa, senior program supervisor for the Life Time Foundation, to learn the way the group is continuous to help faculties and college students by means of this time.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic modified the way you’re supporting your accomplice college districts?

School food professionals are dealing with an pressing problem, and, admirably, it’s one they’ve taken on with out hesitation. They proceed to feed kids by means of the unknowns of this pandemic, inventing new and inventive methods to take action.

At the Life Time Foundation, we’re nonetheless firmly dedicated to our mission of eliminating the Harmful 7 from college meals. However, we’re quickly refocusing our efforts to supply our companions with funding for the important provides they should safely proceed serving college students.

We have been in a position to give monetary help to 35 accomplice throughout the United States. By the tip of this yr, we can have supplied round $350,000 in COVID-19 Assistance School Grants. We’re prepared to provide extra in 2021, and are listening to and collaborating with our companions to grasp the fixed modifications to high school food service that they’re dealing with. We need to be sure that the almost 10 years of progress we’ve made continues past the pandemic.

In April 2020, the Life Time Foundation launched the COVID-19 Assistance School Grants program. Why was that an instantaneous effort?

Thirty million kids eat college meals every day. Twenty-two million kids depend on them. That’s why when faculties closed as a result of pandemic, college food professionals determined to proceed serving meals. However, they now had to determine how to take action safely whereas stopping the unfold of COVID-19. This meant that districts wanted new varieties of gear and objects they didn’t have a funds for, together with masks, gloves, sanitizing provides, thermometers, and extra.

With college students staying dwelling close to the beginning of the pandemic, meal participation decreased and bills elevated, inflicting most college nutrition packages to go within the purple. We reached out to our district companions and supplied funds to cowl a portion of their COVID-19-related purchases so they might safely proceed to serve children.

How has your work with college lunch packages been impacted?

Our college food skilled companions have needed to rethink the way in which they feed children to make sure it’s protected. They have additionally encountered new challenges, equivalent to a scarcity of private protecting and security gear, delayed food supply, and unavailable or overpriced high-demand food objects.

Our district companions have stayed dedicated to the nutrition philosophy, even when procurement bought rather more tough. When talking about meal high quality and integrity, a number of administrators have advised us, “a pandemic won’t stop us.” They’re guaranteeing that every lunch incorporates a vegetable, fruit, protein, grain, and milk.

Many districts have been compelled to serve individually wrapped meals to keep away from food dealing with, which is a shift from the scratch or speed-scratch cooking they have been doing beforehand. To assist these districts select the best high quality objects potential, we supplied them with a database of merchandise freed from the Harmful 7. We’ve additionally labored with a chef who consults with college nutrition packages to assist enhance scratch cooking. He makes use of Harmful 7-free merchandise from that database to create breakfast- and lunch-menu ideas.

Our hope is that our grants assist our district companions be in a greater monetary state of affairs so it’s simpler for them to get again to serving extra recent, scratch, and speed-scratch meals which can be freed from the Harmful 7.

The Life Time Foundation lately funded a $1 million grant that may profit the greater than 1.1 million college students served by the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE). Can you inform us about that partnership?

We are thrilled to announce our partnership with the New York City Department of Education! Through this $1 million grant we shall be collaborating with the Office of School Nutrition to speed up scratch-cooking strategies and the preparation of fresh, healthful, and easily ready meals, whereas additionally working to get rid of the Harmful 7 classes of substances in all the district’s faculties. It’s our honor to affix the district’s efforts to provide over 1.1 million college students entry to the very best meals.

The Life Time Foundation discovered a singular technique to accomplice with athletes after many endurance races have been canceled this yr. What did these efforts appear like?

Because Life Time owns and produces greater than 30 premier marathons, triathlons, and biking races, we had a singular probability to take a few of these canceled occasions and switch them right into a philanthropic alternative to profit kids and their households in want by supporting our faculty district companions.

Athletes from 9 of Life Time’s signature occasions got the selection to donate their already-paid entry charges to the Life Time Foundation. Life Time additionally created the Leadville 100,000-Foot Challenge, a digital occasion to exchange the Leadville Race Series that often happens in mid-August. All of the proceeds from that occasion have been donated to the Foundation. As a results of the 2 initiatives, a complete of $320,036 has been raised for the Life Time Foundation as of September 1, 2020.

How are donations to the Life Time Foundation used?

Unlike many different charitable organizations, 100 p.c of each greenback donated to the Life Time Foundation instantly helps its mission, as a result of all administrative prices are contributed by Life Time.

Currently, all donations help our COVID-19 Assistance School Grants program, offering faculties with the important provides required to soundly feed kids in want. All donations help the varsity districts listed on our COVID-19 Support page.

If somebody is inquisitive about donating to the Life Time Foundation, how can they achieve this?

You can go to give.ltfoundation.org/schools to donate and to assist college food professionals proceed to feed kids safely.

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