Yota Giardino

Yota Giardino, food service director for the Washington schools. (Photo contributed)
Yota Giardino, food service director for the Washington schools. (Photo contributed)

Yota Giardino and a crew of volunteers and staff members helped serve 36,000 meals this summer to Washington kids.

The summer lunch program has been running for 10 years. This year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program ran for a longer period of time and saw a large increase in families utilizing the program.

Giardino, Washington schools food service director, has been with the school for 18 years and runs everything food related for the Washington schools. In 2010, she applied for a U.S. Department of Agriculture program to provide the meals, and a few years ago, it was made eligible for every student in the district.

This year’s program ran from March to July because of the pandemic shutdown.

Last year the school served 208 meals in June. This year they served 566.

Giardino said they expected the high number of students utilizing the program. In March, fewer students were served than if school was in session. The number was still much higher than a normal summer.

The program had various pickup spots throughout Washington as well as in Brighton. Some meals were delivered to homes.

Giardino said the program is important because it provides students with the necessary nutrients as well as a way for students who may be home alone or with siblings to have a healthy meal without cooking.

Many different staff members and volunteers helped the program run smoothly and pack meals.

Superintendent Willie Stone said the program went amazing for the students. He said the staff and volunteers did an amazing job serving the kids, and he received calls and emails from parents in appreciation of the program.

Giardino said she was just a small piece of the program and without everyone working together the program wouldn’t be successful.

– Caitlin Yamada