By Heather Abraham

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Kids sat in the cafeteria at Pittsburgh Langley this summer, relishing the last few days of camp and enjoying lunch with their friends. For some, a sandwich is more than just lunch.

“Sometimes it might be the only meal that students might actually get during the day or the evening,” said Tiffany Fitzpatrick.

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Fitzpatrick has worked in food services for eight years for Pittsburgh Public Schools. She’s part of a team of people that provide breakfast to some 14,000 students and more than 19,000 lunches.

Of course, things changed last school year.

“It was a little challenging at times because we didn’t know what we were expecting,” said Fitzpatrick.

But they had to keep the food coming, knowing how important each meal is to the kids.

“There were parents that reached out to me and said, ‘I can’t get out of my house to get the grab-and-go meals. What can you do to help me out?'” said Pittsburgh Public Schools Director of Food Service Curtistine Walker.

Walker says staff went above and beyond to make sure meals got to the homes that needed them.

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“The principals helped out if it was a student in their particular school. And then also there were community groups that said, ‘hey, we’ll deliver for you,'” said Walker.

Walker knows this year will have its challenges too as kids start to fill the cafeteria again.

“Socially distanced. The meals have to be prepared a certain way. Certain things will have to be individually wrapped,” said Walker.

In addition to COVID protocols, there’s also the lingering problem affecting almost everything now.

“And also deal with a supply chain that wasn’t what it was,” said Walker. “It’s gonna get harder throughout the school year, but we’re prepared. We have a plan.”

Hundreds of thousands of children across Pennsylvania don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and that’s why Walker says there’s no room for failure in her kitchen.

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“It’s not a matter of ‘is it gonna work out?’ We’re gonna make it work out. That’s the attitude. We’re gonna make it work,” said Walker.

Heather Abraham