Q&A: Irene Pawlisch goes from MMSD cook to handing out meals at food sites

Scott Girard:

When Irene Pawlisch began work as a lead cook in the Madison Metropolitan School District food services department in August, she didn’t anticipate dressing up in costumes every day.

Since schools closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, though, that’s been part of her Monday through Friday routine as she hands out free family meals at various sites around the district. MMSD is distributing pre-packaged breakfast and lunch at 15 sites.

The costumes — on a recent Monday, she was a giraffe — are a way to bring joy to families dealing with the stress of a pandemic and no school or activities, Pawlisch said.

“Someone told me today, they’re like, ‘Seeing you dress up just makes me smile,’” Pawlisch said last week. “I go, ‘We gotta do something that doesn’t suck when all of everything else sucks.’”