At 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1, Vashon School District Director of Food Service Lisa Cyra (foreground), Char Phillips (left) and Heather Mcmillen (right) loaded up a school bus, filled with nutritious breakfasts and lunches, to head out to Vashon School District students.
The day’s menu? Fresh fruits, assorted sandwiches, hummus chips and veggies, baked goods, and more, all made from scratch by VISD’s food service staff under Cyra’s direction.
Two other vans also filled with meals followed the bus — bound for 34 bus stops throughout the island. Meals can also be picked up between 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at Vashon High School, on scheduled school days.
The best part of all? On Monday, the school district announced that breakfasts and lunches will again be free and available every school day for all islanders between the ages of three and 18 years, and special education students through the age of 21. Adult meals are also available to the community, for a fee that will be disclosed soon.
The school district provided free meal service for both children and adults after school went online last spring, and this summer, Chef Cyra worked with Vashon Food Bank to continue another program of free meals for island families. However, in the run-up to VISD’s re-opening of online classes yesterday, the district had notified islanders that school meals would have to be purchased by families for the fall term.
But on Monday, in a surprise announcement, the U.S. Agriculture Department said it would extend funding for a school meals program that provided free food to millions of children since the coronavirus pandemic closed schools in March. And with less than 24 hours notice, Cyra once again saw her job expand and change.
Cyra, who recently received VISD’s Doors of Opportunity award for her work in providing delicious, locally-sourced food to families throughout the pandemic, paused on Tuesday morning — for just a moment — as she helped load the bus and vans with food, to let a reporter know that a fundraising effort was also being planned to provide free meals for island parents as well.
For complete information about food services from the school, including menus and a list of bus stops, visit vashonsd.org, and find “Food Service” in the drop-down menu of departments.
— Elizabeth Shepherd