MICHIGAN CENTER, MI – Becki Nutt can’t help but go all-out during the holidays.
Nutt, food service director in Michigan Center Schools, typically organizes an annual holiday event at Arnold Elementary School where kids get cookies, make ornaments, write letters to Santa and even get their picture taken with a live reindeer.
With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting Nutt’s ability to do that this year, she knew she would need to get creative to capture the holiday spirit.
“What I was trying to capture was the fact that these kids are missing so much not being in school,” said Nutt, director of food services at Michigan Center for 15 years. “I just really wanted to hear the kids’ voices – the excitement, the smiles.”
Nutt came up with the idea of streamlining her holiday event to be done in conjunction with the weekly Wednesday meal pick-up for families, transforming the elementary school with lights and a variety of blow-up figures for kids to see as they got their food.
Nutt also enlisted several people to serve as characters in the drive-through event, including Santa and Mrs. Claus, the Grinch and Cindy Lou Who, Buddy the Elf and a return appearance from a reindeer from Reindeer Ranch in Kalamazoo.
The weekly meal pick-up, which typically attracts between 250 to 300 people served around 600 children of all ages from throughout the district and beyond on Dec. 16.
The food service staff made the occasion extra special for more than 500 children by giving them a box of a dozen cookies they baked along with frosting and toppings the students could use for decorating. The cookies came in addition to the typical distribution of a week’s worth of breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Nutt said she was proud to see the food service staff step up, in addition to the donations of blow-ups and other items from the community to make the event possible.
“It’s just amazing what came together in about five days,” Nutt said. “My staff working their tails off behind the scenes.”
The impromptu event was another example of the work Nutt and the food service department do to help families in the community, Arnold Elementary Principal Matt Desmarais said.
“I think it was her way of giving back by making kids smile,” Desmarais said. “She advertised and wanted to make it special. She just did it up pretty big and it was pretty awesome.”
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