ARLINGTON — After raising $409 for “Meals ‘til Monday” at their May 4 “Safeway Takeover,” the Arlington High School DECA program raised an additional $475 for “Meals ‘til Monday” through their McTeacher’s Night at the Arlington McDonald’s on Thursday, May 16.
As many as 10 DECA students were joined by three teachers and six para-educator and administrative staff members that evening to support “Meals ‘til Monday,” which works with the Arlington Community Food Bank to provide weekend meals to K-12 students in the Arlington School District who qualify for free and reduced-price lunches during the school week.
“Sarah Katanik, a volunteer with the Food Bank, contacted us to ask for our assistance, since she’s our contact when we get family names for our Santa’s Helpers program for DECA,” said Tyler Payne, marketing education teacher and DECA advisor for AHS. “I see Arlington as a very close-knit community, where we do the best we can to take care of one another. Without programs like this and other forms of community support, many of the district’s students would be famished throughout the weekend.”
Although a number of school staff members brought experience from previous McTeacher’s Nights, the rapid pace and multiple tasks proved trying.
“Watching the screens of what was coming up next, and making sure everyone’s order was accurate with no mix-ups, were no small orders,” Payne said. “The easiest job was the fryer. I liked the working drive-thru, because you get to chat with customers who are coming by to support the program. The station where you bag the drive-thru items was still stressful, though, since you’re always rushing against the clock to get the food to the drive-thru window.”
Michael Cartwright, vice president in charge of business partnerships for the AHS DECA, was among the students who enjoyed seeing school staff working different positions, as well as volunteering at the Arlington McDonald’s that evening themselves.
AHS secretary Liz Ries reported that the students enthusiastically waved signs on the street to entice passerby into the Arlington McDonald’s, and she echoed Payne’s appreciation for the work that McDonald’s employees do every day.
“Serving up fries was easy, but trying to keep up with the order screens was challenging, and it was hot working in that area,” Ries said. “The orders changed from second-to-second, and we needed to make sure we had enough fries at all times.”
At the same time, Ries also had fun conversing with patrons, and emphasized the importance of “Meals ‘til Monday” to the families that it serves.
“As a mom, I cannot begin to imagine my child feeling hunger pangs when school is out, solely because I didn’t make enough to provide something so basic as food on our table,” Ries said. “The summer months must feel like an eternity for them. It’s our responsibility to share in the burdens faced by our community as best we can. We never know when it could be us relying on the generosity of others, and we must not lose our focus to put our children first.”
“Meals ‘til Monday” and the Arlington Community Food Bank will receive further support from Jon Murray’s “Murrathon” marathon fundraiser on Friday, May 31.
The next AHS DECA McTeacher’s Night is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 21 at the Arlington McDonald’s.