When the COVID-19 pandemic swept across New York state in mid-March, the Marlboro School District realized students were in need of food. Soon enough, the Snack Shack was born.
On September 8, the Snack Shack reopened their services to students, and to senior citizens throughout the community who are in crisis and need assistance getting food.
“It is important for us to do something and help the community during these times,” said Food Services Director Fred Callo. “We did the same thing during the pandemic in March when they shut down and everyone went home for that 14-day pause. We did a summer program that was pretty successful as well.”
From now through December 23, all students within the Marlboro School District are able to receive free breakfast and lunch from the Snack Shack located at Marlboro High School near their turf field. The shack is open daily from 8 a.m. to noon on days that school would normally be open.
Callo says since everyone is home and learning virtually at this point in time, students can pick up meals for the week rather than returning each day.
“On Monday we start a five day week, so it is probably better to come earlier in the week,” Callo said. “I have had people call or email me who are not able to come pick up food, so we set them up for home deliveries. This week we did about 25 home deliveries [but with parents spreading the word] we will probably do more this upcoming week.”
When a car pulls up to the Snack Shack window, they will tell the person at the welcome table their name, their child’s name and how many students are in the household. Next, they will drive up to the next window and whoever is working behind the glass will put their food out on the ledge for them to pick up.
“They can pop out of the car, put it into to-go bags they brought or we will give them a box if they need it,” Callo said. “Before they leave the car we close the window to make sure everyone is safe and social distancing.”
The meals that are given out to students encompass everything they need to make them themselves. For example, if they are given chicken tenders they are not hot and ready to go right then, but are frozen.
“We are giving everyone a recipe of how to prepare each item that we’re giving you,” Callo said. “Monday is ‘make your own’ taco day, Tuesday we are doing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with Smuckers PB&J and Wednesday we’re doing a chicken parm sandwich with mozzarella cheese on a chicken patty.”
Students will receive frozen vegetables to prepare, along with fruit cups and breakfast items such as pancakes, cereal and bagels. For sandwiches and cereal, they will also get half a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread.
About 40 percent of the Marlboro School District receive free lunch, so Callo believes it is important to help these students and their families as much as possible.
During a normal school day, food services will normally provide from 1,100 to 1,200 lunches. Now, Callo says they are hoping to reach at least 500 students.
“Obviously it is the first week of school so it probably is not a great parameter, but by the end of September that number should hopefully be higher as soon as parents get into a routine,” he added.
The staff running the Snack Shack normally work throughout the district at their four cafeterias, so daily staff members are rotated so everyone can work some hours that are otherwise non-existent due to virtual learning.
“This is my 24th year in the district, and I have never done anything like this before,” Callo said. “Usually kids come into the cafeteria and they pick what they want for lunch everyday, so we had to reinvent ourselves as we went over this process, but we all look forward to seeing district children back in school and back on those lunch lines – hopefully sooner rather than later.”
If any parent, student or senior citizen has questions, Callo recommends calling his office at 845-238-5815.