DDSD school lunches boosted by grants, donations

By Michael S. Hoey


The Delavan-Darien School District has been providing free breakfasts and lunches to local children since the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools in March. Those meals are now being supplemented by donations of cheese secured by Marty Speth, the agri-science teacher at Delavan-Darien High School.

Funded by the USDA, meals are offered at D-DHS and Darien Elementary School Monday through Friday to anyone younger than the age of 18 who live in the district, even if they do not attend district schools. On Fridays, enough food is distributed to help cover the entire weekend. Meals can be picked up between 7 and 10 a.m.

Speth said he and his family wrote grants for $250 each to Thrivent Financial to purchase cheese to add to the lunches. Speth’s wife, Maria Ramos-Speth, also a teacher at D-DHS, and their three daughters – Jennah, Jaida and Jasmin – each wrote a grant for a total of $1,250. Jasmin is a senior at the high school while Jennah and Jaida are graduates.

Speth said the D-DHS FFA Alumni matched one of the grants for $250. That led to him contacting fellow teacher and D-DHS graduate Emily McClellan. Her family owns a dairy farm that Grande Cheese purchases milk from so Speth asked McClellan to contact Grande. Grande then added $500 worth of cheese to the donation.

In addition, Sorg’s donated mozzarella sticks and Hill Valley Dairy has donated some cheese products. In total, Speth said $2,000 worth of cheese has been donated to supplement school lunches this month.

“We wanted to get more food to our community and get more milk in the form of cheese off the farms,” Speth said. “When farmers are starting to dump milk or cut production due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea was to have a two-fold positive effect.”

Speth said buying locally was important and $250 worth of string cheese was purchased from Sorg’s while another $750 was used to purchase cheese from small local cheesemakers, mostly Hill Valley.

“DDSD greatly appreciates the partnership between local businesses, the school district, and families,” District Administrator Jill Sorbie said.

“Providing local milk in the form of cheese will allow so many children a healthy snack. A special thank you to McClellan Farms, Sorg’s, Grande, Hill Valley, and Delavan-Darien FFA for this very generous donation,” she added.



1 Comment

  1. Terry Woods says:

    Please contact us for cheese as we are the only creamery actually in the local area. We are a few miles south of Geneva lake and make our cheese from the milk of our small, pastured Jersey herd. Our cows are spring calving now as nature intended and we are beginning to make this seasons cheese. It is all fresh, handmade and hand cut. Never wrapped in plastic by a machine.

    Our cows are raised only on grass, not that ground up stuff of conventional farms. The calves are not shuffled off to a plastic hutch but rather are raised with there mom’s until they are weaned and spend their days racing around the pasture with the other calves.

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