Chicken delivered for child care appreciation day

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 12, 2022

By Susan Shinn Turner

For Smart Start Rowan

Smart Start Rowan delivered 430 meals to 38 child care centers and N.C. Pre-K classrooms across Rowan County.


That’s a lotta chicken — and a lotta ways to say “Thank you!” to child care providers who work so hard each day.

Smart Start Rowan serves children birth to 5. For this special lunch, it typically receives funding from various sources, but there was no funding available last year, according to Sarah Paynter, the agency’s outreach and development specialist.

“After Christmas, I started researching grants, and they matched what we were trying to accomplish,” she said.

On Friday morning, a team of Smart Start Rowan employees and volunteers met with Bo Watkins, Chick-fil-A’s general manager, to pick up the boxed lunches. The packages included a chicken sandwich, chips and a cookie.

“In the spirit of giving with Chick-fil-A and our founder Truett Cathy, we’re just trying to be a steward of the blessings that God has given us with Chick-fil-A in the community,” Watkins said.

The effort is only a small gesture for local child care workers, Paynter said. “During COVID, their world did not stop. They were the driving force of keeping people employed. There are not enough thank yous to give these people on a daily basis.”

Paynter and Amy Brown, Smart Start Rowan’s executive director, helped deliver meals so that they could say thank you in person.

“We are incredibly grateful for the amazing child care professionals who work so hard to keep our community’s young children safe and healthy, while at the same time helping to prepare them for success when they enter kindergarten,” Brown said Friday. “Rowan County early childhood educators are true heroes, and we are so excited to have the opportunity to thank them in this special way. We’re also appreciative of the support of Novant Health and Fisher Greene Insurance Agency for helping us to make this happen!”

Some of the child care workers did not know about the free lunches.

“We were extremely appreciative of the lunches that were delivered,” said Sandy King, education coordinator for McKnight Child Development Center in Kannapolis. “We did not tell anybody until the food came. We had a lot of surprised faces. Our teachers are not in this job for the money or perks but it is so nice when our community partners show their appreciation. It reminds us to keep doing what we’re doing.

“We were extremely blessed today by them.”

McKnight has two locations within Kannapolis City Schools.

The lunches were also a surprise for employees at Kiddie Land Kindergarten Child Development Center in Salisbury.

“They greatly appreciated it,” said Timika Peterson, executive director. “When they saw the bags and the table set up, they thought it was amazing.”

When told the lunch was courtesy of Smart Start Rowan, the response was, “They always come through!”

“Those little things go a long way,” Peterson added.

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