Thank you for your contribution on behalf of the Southern California School Nutrition Association-Chapter 1! At our November 30, 2018 SCSNA chapter meeting, we gathered $2,085.00 in gift cards and cash to donate to the Food Service employees of the Paradise Unified School District, recent fire victims. The Camp Fire is cited as the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history to date. We were able to deliver our donation before Christmas and your generosity was greatly appreciated.
I had the opportunity to talk to Tanya Harter, Director of Paradise USD Food Service Department on December 7 and she shared the following information in our conversation:
In the town of Paradise, 98% of the town was affected by the fire. Paradise USD has 12 schools, and now 5 are completely gone. The Food Service Department lost their warehouse, supplies, the offices, all work cars and delivery vehicles, plus ALL Food Service records (Tanya laughed and said she was grateful she had her Administrative Review last year, and thinks she’ll be in compliance for 3 years until the next review). She’s not sure what people on the outside know of their situation, but people who were escaping with their lives, were told to leave their cars and run – to date 86 people died in this terrible fire.
They began evacuating at 8:15 a.m. in the morning. Tanya had been working at a school site on the mountain and by early morning, people were escaping for their lives. When she started breakfast service that day, there was a little fire on the hill that was hardly noticeable and by the time she finished serving breakfast, the sky was completely black. Her husband is a firefighter and called to check on her. He told her to leave immediately but she stayed because there were still children that hadn’t been picked up by their parents. Her husband wasn’t pleased with her response and said, “Well, fine. You keep working. It looks like I’m never going to see you again, so I guess this is goodbye.” --which spurred her to finally leave the school when everyone was safe.
On December 3rd, Paradise USD opened schools in 4 different towns in the area. The District’s Administration has met to start planning for the future, but this situation is unprecedented. The District lost half of their population to this trauma and sadly, in February, pink slips will be coming. Paradise USD is working through the process of reconfiguring and/or relocating their students. Tanya stated, “Chico USD previously had an enrollment of 12,000, and just added 4,500 homeless Paradise students (increasing their Free and Reduced counts). Last week Chico had a population of approximately 80,000 and Paradise 28,000 -- now 18,000 of those from Paradise live in Chico.”
Tanya has been hand delivering Goodie Bags and donations to her staff. Dayle Hayes, MS, RD (educator and child nutrition advocate at schoolmealsthatrock.org), recently posted of their situation on Facebook and now Nutrition Services communities from all over the country are sending donations in support of the Paradise Food Service staff (Florida, Ohio, and Utah). Tanya shared, “In such a crummy situation, there have been so many reaching out to help and it’s brought out the good in people all over the country.” Her Food Service Department in Paradise USD has 40 employees and only 5 of them still have a home. Many of the staff members are still off duty, trying to piece everything together.
Tanya shared a story of the caring generosity of others: “Diana Flores, (Director, Sacramento City USD) reached out to the Paradise staff. She sent 5 professional chefs in collaboration with a Rationale mobile food truck, Sysco’s food donations and they held a huge dinner gathering on the weekend. Many of the chefs live 2 hours away from Paradise, but chose to stay after the dinner to take part in the talking and healing of the staff gathered together – no one wanted to leave.”
“There’s a lot of good out there and it’s sad that it takes such a tragedy for us to recognize it”. Tanya thanked us many times throughout the conversation for the donations and will take pictures of the staff receiving the cards and cash – to protect her from any misunderstandings of the receipt of the gifts. Tanya ended our conversation with thanks to our chapter membership for their generosity.
Here is a photograph of many of the Paradise staff members receiving the gift cards.
THE PARADISE UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT #PARADISELUNCHLADYSTRONG
Respectfully, Susan Delgado, President SCSNA