A Cape employee’s determination to keep students fed when COVID-19 closed schools has earned state recognition.
“Schools closed Friday, March 13, and by Wednesday the 18th, we were up and running,” said Cape Supervisor of Child Nutrition Services Cheryle Lord-Gordon, recipient of a First Chance award presented by Delaware’s First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney and the End Childhood Hunger Task Force.
Lord-Gordon coordinated a team that prepared and distributed 1,600 grab-and-go meals a day – 800 breakfasts and 800 lunches – for families to pick up at locations throughout the district, Monday through Friday, up to Aug. 20.
“I feel like this award shouldn’t be for me,” Lord-Gordon said. “It should be for the whole Cape team – my team, custodians, bus drivers and volunteers – who all worked together to prepare and deliver food.”
Director of Business Operations Oliver Gumbs said even when Lord-Gordon was homebound herself after an injury, she still tried to work from home when he urged her to rest.
“That’s how dedicated she is,” Gumbs said. “I’m just glad she’s on my team.”
The program first started with cold sandwiches, Lord-Gordon said.
“But we quickly wanted to do more,” she said. “Staff started coming up with innovative ideas to provide hot food. Kids love it, so we wanted to do it.”
Lord-Gordon said the team was grateful to receive thank-you letters from students and community members, and that she didn’t have to worry about feeding her own staff because Victoria’s Restaurant in Rehoboth Beach delivered lunch to them every day.
The program is still in place now that schools have reopened, she said. A United States Department of Agriculture nationwide waiver allows schools to serve free breakfast and lunch to students through Dec. 31 or until available funding runs out.
In-person students receive the same grab-and-go meals available for pickup by remote students five days a week, she said, and hybrid learners can also pick up free meals on their remote days.
“I wish more people would take advantage of it,” Lord-Gordon said.
Remote learners can order meals at capehenlopenschools.com or their school website and arrange to pick up meals at the school most convenient to them.
Lord-Gordon will celebrate 29 years with the district in November. She started as a bus driver, and when she wanted to fill the time between her morning and afternoon runs, she began working in the cafeteria. She was promoted to Shields Elementary cafeteria supervisor in 1991, and has served as the district nutrition manager for the last 10 years.
Carney launched the awards initiative in 2018 to focus on ending childhood hunger and expand access to nutritious food for low-income children.
“School-based food services represent our front line of defense against childhood hunger and in support of the nutrition essential to healthy development and learning,” Carney said. “When school buildings had to close, it took a wide range of teams – comprising dedicated, creative, determined individuals – to devise and implement plans to continue to feed our kids.”