Ypsilanti Community Schools
Breakfast in the classroom, lunch in the cafeteria, after-school snacks and supper are all served daily to an estimated 250 students at Erickson Elementary of Ypsilanti Community Schools. Crystal Fuller and Natasha Mills, the food service staff at Erickson, ensures students are provided with the nutrients and fuel they need to start their school day properly. With the kids going through the pandemic and having to adjust to virtual learning, limitations in their social skills and possibly the loss of loved ones to Covid-19, it’s a priority to the Erickson food staff to provide students with a safe, comforting place to enjoy a healthy meal and socialize with their friends.
While the effects of the pandemic were felt all around the world, Erickson Elementary School never missed a beat in serving meals to its students. During the initial wave of the pandemic, Ypsilanti Community Schools partnered with Food Gatherers, the YMCA and local churches as additional food distribution sites to ensure meals were accessible to all the children during the pandemic. In addition to meals, the Ypsilanti Community Schools food staff was also able to pass out activity packs, hats and gloves for the community.
“The resiliency and determination that this team has shown is absolutely remarkable. I couldn’t pick a better team to work with,” said Tiffany Houston, Director of Dining Service for Ypsilanti Community Schools. “There were many days we wanted to quit, but we knew that we couldn’t let our students go hungry. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that we love our kids.”
While the food service staff was on the front lines preparing and serving meals to the children during the pandemic and now that school is back in-person, none of that would be possible without the constant encouragement and support from Erickson Elementary School principal Kelly Mickel. In addition to keeping lines of communication open for feedback from staff and students on what they need to be successful, Mickel notices and truly appreciates the hard work and dedication the food service staff has displayed during these challenging times.
“Our food service staff knows what kids need to start the day. A focus on positivity and food brings people together,” said Mickel. “It all starts behind the counter with our fantastic staff, Crystal and Natasha. We come together as a team. It truly takes a village.”
An active supporter of this village is No Kid Hungry, a company on a mission to end childhood hunger. With the support of a grant, Erickson Elementary School purchased large equipment items, like a brand-new oven that have proved monumental this school year. With supply chain issues forcing nutrition departments to buy different food products, this oven has allowed food service staff to act fast and be able to prepare and serve fresh cheeseburgers on-site. Two amazing women feeding 250+ students every day, that’s a lot of hamburger patties to form and cook from scratch!
The food service staff at Erickson Elementary will continue to diligently prepare and serve meals to their students, despite any hardships or obstacles that may come their way.