FRUITVALE As temperatures finally rose following February’s record freeze, many Texans struggled with flooded homes and businesses from burst plumbing.
Such a dilemma faced rural Fruitvale ISD in Van Zandt County. The district’s single two-story facility houses pre-kindergarten, elementary, middle and high school campuses. With the February thaw, burst pipes flooded the lower levels, rendering cafeteria and dining areas unusable.
A call from the Texas Department of Emergency Management to Scottie Stice, SBTC DR director, sent two QRU mobile kitchens to prepare meals for some 400 students, faculty and staff at the district on March 4-5.
DR volunteers Fredye Quain of Athens, Freddie Dikes of Abilene, and Ronnie and Connie Roark from San Antonio, assisted by Fruitvale cafeteria staff, prepared 1,547 meals over two days, serving 375-400 at breakfast and lunch.
Kids and staff enjoyed breakfast biscuits and sausage. The district provided milk, juice, water and strudel. Lunch varied from chicken fajitas, flour tortillas and green beans to sausage wraps and pinto beans … and chips and cookies.
“The kids were so excited about having Pringles and Oreos,” Connie Roark told the TEXAN, adding that all COVID protocols were observed. DR volunteers and cafeteria staff wore masks and gloves; staff carried food to serving areas.
“It was fun to see a small town school,” Ronnie Roark said.
Fruitvale cafeteria staff working alongside the DR volunteers commented on how “calm it was in the food trailer,” Connie added. “We told them we prayed every morning over our unit, that we rely on God. They were Christian ladies. It was a good opening.”
One part-time Fruitvale worker told the crews he was a retired missionary, although “missionaries never really retire.” He remarked that he saw his job at the district as an opportunity to serve others.
A Salvation Army large mobile kitchen set up at Fruitvale and will serve the district in coming weeks, Stice said. “We stood in the gap between the initial need and when the Salvation Army could come online,” he added.
The QRU is designed for such short-term flexible responses.
“We were pleased to be able to serve the community of Fruitvale this way,” Stice said.
SBTC DR training is also ongoing, both online and in-person classes. Visit https://sbtexas.com/disaster-relief/dr-training-schedule for details.