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Lower Twp. custodian on food distribution, community support

By Gary O’Shea, custodian, Lower Twp. Public Schools

I’ve been working as a custodian/maintenance employee in Lower Township for the past ten years. We have four schools in the district, and two schools are currently providing breakfast and lunch for our students.

Before this, I don’t think many people realized how many students relied on school districts for their meals. It’s not a city problem or a country problem – it’s everywhere. It was one of the biggest concerns we all had when we heard that schools would close.

In my district, food service is still coming in to prepare meals. The custodians are helping to distribute the meals and clean up each day.

Our administration was really forward-thinking about the threat of COVID-19 and they got a waiver so that we could provide breakfast and lunch to any student in the district. We have more than 1,700 students in our district and with the way things are going, even if a student didn’t qualify for free and reduced lunch before, a lot of things have changed very quickly.

Our school is a safe place for our students. They look up to us and we mentor them. Our administrators have asked us to record ourselves reading a story so they can post it on our district Facebook page. It’s a small way we can keep in contact with our students and reassure them.

This situation hasn’t really sunk in yet for me, or for a lot of people. It’s going to be a long road, but I know that our school community is going to support each other, and that’s the way it should be. We all support the teachers with how their work has transitioned, and they support us. We’ll get through this together.