The Lunch Man
"The fact that the school district reached out, extended the olive branch to serve kids on weekends—I think that says a lot because what we're dealing with everyday, some of these kids only eat Monday through Friday."
Since buildings closed in March 2020 through May 2021, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ Child Nutrition Team served a total of 6,747,061 meals in a variety of ways. Choncy Holman manages the cafeteria at Whitewater Middle School and worked with three other schools to distribute meals during remote learning. But when the pandemic first closed school buildings, he left the kitchen and was called on to hit the road.
A few years ago I was approached about getting my CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). It paid off big time. I was able to go get our delivery trucks, go to a school, clean out a whole freezer, whole stock room. As soon as I unload it, go to another school, load up their freezer. And that basically was my routine from, I would say, March all the way up until June when the summer feeding program started.
We had to bring four schools under one roof. You know, you got to deal with different personalities, different people you’ve never seen a day in your life. We all have one common goal, but you know, everybody’s mindset, it's not the same. So, you know, just learning to adapt, that was the most challenging. It definitely gave me patience. I've learned I had to have a lot of patience. At the same time, appreciation as well, because someone new that you’ve never seen before, worked with before, they bring different aspects to the table. They bring new, fresh ideas to the table. So it was like, I can appreciate what you do. I'm just so used to being in my bubble with my staff. Now I get a broad perspective of what's going on outside of my kitchen.
The fact that the school district reached out, extended the olive branch to serve kids on weekends—I think that says a lot because what we're dealing with everyday, some of these kids only eat Monday through Friday. So for CMS to say, okay, we understand that there's no meat on the shelves in the grocery store, there's no toiletries around, at least let us do our part and extend this to Saturday and Sunday. Now it may not be what kids would normally be used to eating, McDonald's or, you know, just some junk food or something that may make them happy. The fact of the matter is we have a meal, we’re trying our best to make sure you have a meal on your table. Yeah, definitely two thumbs up for that. Yeah.
It was rewarding when we were doing the bundle sites and the hub sites and the kids would come through with the parents in the carpool line. To just see a kid jumping on that back seat, just bouncing up and down, knowing, “Hey, yes, we get to get our seven day supply of food.” I mean, it kind of brings chills to you because, you know, the impact that you have on that one child’s life, just a simple box provided with meals means a lot to them. So me seeing their reaction, that does a lot for me. That's why I enjoy it when the kids come in the cafeteria. Cause I love seeing the expressions. Yeah.
- Choncy Holman