Jayne Gibson: Keeping the students fed

Published 6:30 am Saturday, December 5, 2020

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Does your child tell you that the best part of the school day was lunch? Did that hot lunch that you were able to pick up from the schools for your student during distance learning bring a smile to your child’s face?

This month, Austin Aspires and Austin Positive Action Coalition are excited to celebrate the person behind the food at Austin Public Schools!  Ms. Mary Weikum, Director of Food and Nutrition Services for Austin Public Schools, has certainly proven to be a Bright Spot for many this year! She was recognized as our November Bright Spot Award winner.

Mary Weikum. Photo provided

“Mary and her staff have done a fantastic job of adjusting their processes, starting in March, to make sure that we offer kids and families lunches (and breakfasts) through this pandemic and beyond,” said Lisa Quednow in her nomination of Ms. Weikum for this honor.  “She is presented with a variety of learning options as well as different school and student needs and really finds a way to make all of the different scenarios work, to offer our students and families meals at little to no cost!”

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Ms. Weikum has been providing meals for the students of Austin Public Schools since 2001. When talking to her colleagues, they are grateful for Mary’s ability to think creatively about how to meet state and federal guidelines in creating meals that the students want to eat! For much of 2020, Mary and her team have provided nutritious breakfasts and lunches to students while in distance learning or hybrid learning models.  Students in the community of Austin did not need to worry about breakfast or lunch because Mary and her team went out of the way to ensure it was available to them!

Playing her part in ensuring students are healthy and ready to learn is important to Mary. She is humbled by the amazing students and staff of Austin Public Schools that she has worked with over the year. She has many stories of incredible kids that she has met, especially the depth of caring and kindness that they show. And when she is not working with the student nutrition team at the school, you can probably find her at home in her kitchen baking. She says she loves to bake during her time off.

Austin Aspires and APAC are pleased to co-sponsor the Austin Bright Spots Awards each month. Recipients of the “Bright Spots” award are teachers, community members, organizations, or businesses who demonstrate compassion and availability, support and inspiration, and welcome and approachability to individuals in Austin. They show care and concern, and are engaged and accessible. They provide encouragement or emotional help. They react to others with enjoyment and approval, and are friendly and easy to talk to.

Do you know a Bright Spot in the community like Ms. Weikum? If so, be sure to nominate them today at www.austinaspires.com

Congratulations to Ms. Mary Weikum. Thank you for making our community a brighter place for all.