QUINCY — Quincy Public Schools' food service crew got some appreciation Friday from someone who says their work is "what America is all about."
U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood visited workers preparing sack breakfasts and lunches for students — more than 70,000 meals since the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools.
"When you come here and see what people are doing to help out their community here in Quincy, it's what America is all about — people stepping up to help in these trying times," LaHood said. "What you see here is dedication and commitment of people who care deeply about community, their students and families."
LaHood was in Quincy to thank teachers and food service workers who have been making sure kids don't go hungry while at home during the health crisis.
"Thank you for all your efforts, your commitment and dedication to help feed students and families in Quincy," LaHood said. "What you're supplying to our students and families is so essential."
LaHood — joined by State Rep. Randy Frese, Mayor Kyle Moore and Regional Superintendent Jill Reis — met with food service workers and QPS Superintendent Roy Webb at Quincy High School.
LaHood's visit "helped emphasize the importance of feeding our community and the education of our kids. Everybody feels those are priorities for our community," Webb said.
"We're very proud of what we do," QPS Food Service Director Jean Kinder said. "We were proud before, but this is really showcasing what they're able to do right now."
QHS serves as the headquarters for the QPS food operation, which provides meals from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday at five locations — the Board of Education office, 1416 Maine; Kroc Center, 405 Vermont; Blessed Sacrament School, 1115 S. Seventh; Quincy Christian School, 1236 N. 10th; and QHS, 3322 Maine.
Food service workers like Terry Spencer were happy to show off the efficient operation to LaHood.
"It's nice that he came to see what all is being done for the community," Spencer said. "It's a group effort from the school system to make this available to all the kids."
Funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture pays for the QPS program, and "being here shows the importance of continuing that funding through USDA and making sure there's adequate nutrition, adequate food supplies for our kids, particularly when you look at the unemployment rate," LaHood said.
While the QPS food program hasn't experienced any supply issues, LaHood said making sure the food supply remains intact all levels is a priority.
"There's a lot of anxiety with farmers right now with the way prices are for corn and soybeans (and with) our meatpacking facilities," he said. "We want to make sure the supply as it relates to meat stays there and make sure that our corn and soybeans and our farmers are taken care of."