Extending service to the broader community
It’s amazing how a few phone calls can result in more than 2,000 lunches for schoolchildren in the midst of a pandemic.
When Liz Wahl, food and nutrition manager at Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs, was contacted about providing more than 400 lunches daily to kids who were out of school, she responded: “We can do this.”
With only a few days lead time, Wahl learned the requirements of the Steamboat Springs School District and followed FDA guidelines to provide nutritional brown bag lunches for area children and relief for the school district’s beleaguered staff. Overall, more than 2,000 lunches consisting of a sandwich, cheese stick, milk, fruit and homemade granola bars were prepared.
“Efforts like this keep emphasizing that we’re all in this together,” said Wahl. “My team is amazing and will do whatever it takes to make special things like this happen, be it something extra for our staff or something big like taking care of these school lunches.”
For Wahl, serving the community’s children brought emotional and team-building benefits.
“We always work to serve nutritious meals to our patients and staff at the hospital, and it feels really good to reach out beyond the walls of the hospital and into the community in a time of need,” said Pam Albrecht-Wedel, executive chef at YVMC. “One day, two team members stood side by side, making sandwiches while talking about how their kids grew up on opposite sides of the world. Making these lunches has brought our department together in so many ways.”
Wahl’s partners included Mark Anderson, executive director of the Craig-Scheckman Family Foundation who provided financial and logistical support including pick-up and delivery of food from the hospital. The Boys and Girls Club of Steamboat Springs, Partners in Routt County and the City of Steamboat Springs provided staff and vans.
The idea originated with Karen Schneider, executive director of UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center Foundation, who brought like-minded individuals together.
“It’s incredible to see how quickly something like this can come together,” said Schneider. “For many weeks, our hospital staff and providers have been overwhelmed with the community’s outpouring of support. UCHealth is thrilled to be able to return that support to families and children in our community with the continuation of the healthy lunch program during spring break.”