This is part of Essential Voices, a series of interviews with people confronting COVID-19. Click on the above link to hear this audio feature.
The pandemic forced schools to find new ways to get free meals to students, many of whom depend on them for nutrition. Statewide, nearly half of all students qualify for free or reduced price meals.
Connie Kristelli has been a food service supervisor at Indianapolis Public Schools for more than 30 years. She is one of many staffers who helped Indianapolis Public Schools serve more 242,000 meals for anyone 18 years old or younger since school buildings closed.
Usually Kristelli is the manager at Shortridge High School but now oversees meal distributions at James Whitcomb Riley School 43 and Louis B. Russell School 48. On a recent Friday, Kristelli and a few other workers, all wearing face masks, packaged and handed out meals from inside a white box truck at the midtown School 43.
“To be honest with you, all of us, if we didn't want to do this, we wouldn't be here. You know, we were asked to do it. And if there was some reason that we couldn't, we could decline,” Kristelli says. "But all of us that are doing this is because we wanted to do it. I feel like I'm blessed because I don't really consider this work. You know, I consider it a service that we're providing to help our students.”