From Loveland City School District: In gratitude to those who serve our community

GUEST FEATURE: By Susanne Quigley, Chief Information Officer, LCSD

LOVELAND, OH (UPDATED April 4, 2020) – By six o’clock in the morning, Monday through Thursday, Loveland City School District (LCSD) Food Services Director Kris Tracy begins her workday at Loveland High School. 

Kris Tracy, Director Food Services, LCSD (Photo credit Susanne Quigley)

The “Tiger Trail Café” kitchen and cafeteria have served as the command center for the preparation, cooking, sorting and packing of food to support students and families in need since the onset of the school building closure due to the coronavirus situation. 

“We adjust daily according to the demand and we have prepared as many as 280 breakfasts and 280 lunches per day over the past couple of weeks,” said Tracy. “We try to provide fresh and nutritionally healthy foods, which means a lot of chopping of lettuce, vegetables, and fruits in the morning to get us ready for the deliveries later in the day.”


This week, Tracy and her team also started preparing dinners. They are distributed cold, separated in baggies and containers – today, it’s spaghetti, sauce, and broccoli – and include instructions on how to heat up in the microwave or on the stovetop. The food, which is planned ahead to incorporate daily menu changes, comes from a variety of 

sources: some is bought by the district to be reimbursed by the state, and some is donated from restaurants, bakeries, individuals or purchased by NEST Community Learning Center. The high school cafeteria, normally seating hundreds of students during the lunch blocks, now resembles a large pantry with non-perishable food items separated in categories and neatly stacked on tables.

Volunteers collaborate to safely pre-pack meals for the kids (Photo credit Susanne Quigley)

Volunteers arrive later in the morning. Currently, organizations that provide charitable, social and essential services can continue their operations, albeit under strict guidelines. Everyone is asked to take their temperature before leaving home and to stay at a six-foot distance from each other while working. No more than 10 volunteers are allowed in the same area at once, all per guidelines issued by the state. Michele Anton, administrative assistant to Tracy and LCSD Business Manager John Ames, is usually among the first to arrive. She lends a helping hand where ever it’s needed, often acting as “runner” to fetch food items and kitchen supplies from other locations in the district. She and additional volunteers, including several of the district’s regular food services staff, also assist Tracy in the meal preparations.

Volunteers arrive in the morning to begin preparing meals (Photo credit Susanne Quigley)

Later in the day the volunteers from NEST come, ready to help bag the food for delivery. When the food has been bagged, it’s loaded onto the NEST vans that will take them to more than 10 pick-up locations throughout the district in the afternoon. At that time, Tracy and her team do the dishes, clean up the kitchen and get it ready to start anew the following day. The NEST team and Tracy sit down to evaluate the needs of the day and to coordinate the donations that have arrived. Usually, by 5:30 or 6:00 o’clock in the evening, the work is done.

NEST vehicles mobilize to deliver meals throughout the community during the afternoon (Photo Chuck Gibson)

“The extended school building closure will start to affect more and more people in our community and we constantly reevaluate and change our plans to respond to the increasing demand,” said Tracy. “We are so grateful to all of those who come to volunteer and help in the efforts to feed our families during this health crisis. We have an amazing team at Loveland that will continue to support this community as long as we possibly can.”
For more information about the cooperation between the Loveland City School District Food Services, NEST Community Learning Center and L.I.F.E. Food Pantry, see this article published earlier in Loveland Beacon

If you need help
• Call the hotline (513) 781-6345 to be connected for any service you may need at this time. •

How you can help
• Volunteers, ages 14 and up, are needed! Please commit to a full week of volunteering when signing up, if possible, so that the team can optimize volunteer training. NEST volunteer sign-up 

Donate food
Requests: apples, bananas, cuties, V-8 Fusion (8 oz), 100% juice box (6.75 oz.), chocolate milk (8 oz.), Progresso soup (no water added; no lite soups, please), granola bars, apple sauce, peanut butter, bread, jelly in squeeze bottles, individual mac & cheese, tuna & chicken pouches, individual cheese-n-cracker packs and similar shelf-stable items.

Drop off at:
• Loveland High School (Sunday: 4-6 p.m. and Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
• NEST Community Learning Center (11905 Rich Road) – donations can be dropped off 24/7 under the carport.
• L.I.F.E. Food Pantry 

Rhonda Combs, kitchen staff member at Loveland High School (Photo credit Susanne Quigley)

Nutritional safely pre-packed foods for the care of the kids (Photo credit Susanne Quigley)