Ashland elementary school serving smiles and lunches during shutdown

Published: Mar. 24, 2020 at 9:26 PM EDT
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As schools across our region enter their second week of closures because of COVID-19, the cooks at Poage Elementary in Ashland are getting creative as they serve lunches.

The group decided they wanted to serve smiles and laughter as a side with the bagged lunches, so they went to district officials looking for costumes.

"Yesterday when she walked in looking for the cow suit, I was like 'What are you talking about?'" said Lena Reese with Ashland Independent Schools' food service program. "She said, 'We just want to bring smile,' and I think it's wonderful."

So far this week, "Cassandra the Cow" has been passing out lunches to smiling students. It's an extra step parents appreciate.

"Everything going on right now, it helps with the anxiety of not knowing and not being with your school friends and everyday people," said Stacy Amos. "This is a good way to keep everything going."

One head start student was almost jumping out of her car seat with excitement and yelling, "Hi cow!"

"This just made her smile," said Leah Nolen. "It was worth the trip. We came here just to get out of the house and this is our trip for the kids...She loved that cow. Then she was surprised it talked!"

The reaction is exciting to the Poage team. Cassandra Roltson said she didn't expect it would get the response it did.

"I was doing it for the kids. I'm just glad the message is getting out there that we're trying to make them smile and have a good day. It's great to see them smiling."

"We have the best school system," said Amos. "Poage always goes above and beyond."

Reese says the pressure is on now, and the Poage crew is already brainstorming for the rest of the shutdown.

"We've already been talking about a couple other costumes we have in storage that they're wanting to get out here, and just give people a reason to smile and still get a good meal in their bellies."

Reese says in the first week of the school shutdown, Ashland Independent Schools served just over 3,000 meals. On the first day of the second week the district had already served just over 1,000.