NEWPORT – Newport’s Food Service workers – who are viewed by many as valuable but often unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic – were formally honored Wednesday by The Kentucky House of Representatives.
During Wednesday night’s Newport Board of Education meeting, each worker was presented an official Kentucky House of Representatives Certificate of Appreciation from State Rep. Rachel Roberts of Newport. The certificates were signed by Rep. Roberts as well as by Speaker of the House David Osborne.
“Thank you for ensuring that Newport students and families were provided enough food to feed their families every day of the week during this difficult time,” The Certification of Appreciation says. “You were truly on the front lines, and your dedication and commitment to the community is worth recognition.”
The certificates were presented to Newport High School Food Service Manager Stephanie Atkins, Newport Intermediate School Food Service Manager Holley Clark and Newport Primary School Food Service Manager Kim Guffey along with the following Food Service workers: Alda Lane, Tara Tucker, Taylor Gross, Jalene Hoskins, Paul Juan McDay, Pam Underwood, Marcella Goff, Lisa Fulmer, Maria Palmisano, Melonie Bennett, Donna Shively, Becky Mueller, Brittani Atkins, Lynnzee Browning, Jessica Bartel and Lenora Mocciola.
Members of the Newport Independent Schools Administration and Board of Education praised the workers and thanked Rep. Roberts for spearheading the recognition effort.
“Newport’s Food Service workers deserve acknowledgement for their dedication and commitment to our students,” said Board of Education Member Julie Smith-Morrow. “Our staff has worked since March to provide meals to students throughout the pandemic."
"Lisa and her team have worked tirelessly to make sure our students have food available every day" said Newport Superintendent Tony Watts. "This shows how much they care about our students and the dedication to our district. They deserve a lot of praise and recognition."
Newport Food Service Director Lisa Rizzo explained that in a district where all students qualify for free meals through the Community Eligibility Provision program, her staff and district administrators were concerned the students would miss the meals they so heavily rely on.
"Many of our families are single parent households, working and possibly without transportation," Rizzo said. "So we knew there would be students whose parents couldn't make it to pick up meals from the schools."
The District set a goal to ensure meals got to every student that needed them by establishing multiple service methods that included:
- Keeping all schools open for most of the day.
- Establishing additional sites throughout Newport for meal distribution locations that were beyond walking distance to school buildings.
- Home delivery to several students who had other special circumstances and were not able to access pick-up locations.
The Food Service program also dealt with significant COVID-related challenges, including reduced staff, product shortages and pandemic-related expenses such as distributing individually wrapped food items and purchasing additional disposable materials.
"But like we always do in Newport," said Newport Board of Education member Melissa Sheffel, "we came together because of our kids and because of the tremendous work ethic, dedication and professionalism of our staff."
The District is now each day offering a curbside meal pickup of a hot lunch and a cold breakfast for the following day at six locations throughout the city. Students not living near one of the pickup sites can arrange for meal delivery.