At the district’s Board of Education meeting on Nov. 10, school lunch manager Mara Pugh was recognized for her outstanding work and commitment to the district. Pugh joined Elwood in September 2019, but was quickly thrust into an extraordinarily challenging situation when the pandemic hit.
“Just seven months into her role, the world was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and schools were closed.,” Assistant Superintendent for Business Lorraine Dunkel said. “Many of our students still needed to be served food, and Mara and her staff worked tirelessly to make sure their needs were met by preparing and packaging both breakfast and lunch for all those in need. More recently, Mara has been facing new challenges. Like many industries, the food service industry is not immune to the effects of the pandemic. Some of her recent struggles include shortages on food, paper goods and staff. We currently have 10 staff members serving four kitchens. This is not ideal, to say the least, but Mara and her staff are making it work. No matter her daily challenges, our students will always be fed. As a leader, Mara never hesitates to lend a hand by stepping in to assist her staff. She can often be seen in any one of our kitchens, cooking or serving food or working the register. Having school-age children of her own, Mara knows the importance and significance of a school lunch program, and how it can always bring a smile to a child’s face.”