Cafeteria manager creates special menu for child with chronic disorder
HANOVER, Va. (WWBT) - On any given school day, you can find a resilient little girl zooming down the halls of Laurel Meadows Elementary School in Hanover. Her name is Asher.
“You really can’t tell by looking at her that stuff is wrong,” said her mom Kaea Waldrop. “Asher has eosinophilic esophagitis as well as a probable mitochondrial disease.”
Also known as EOE, Asher’s esophagus attacks itself when she eats certain foods. She has extensive stomach issues and uses a feeding tube to supplement her diet.
With the mitochondrial disease, there are times where she’s unable to walk without any real notice. She has a nurse, and a wheelchair to get around but eating is a major hurdle.
Mom worked with the school district to come up with a shortlist of things she can eat. That changed when she met her guardian angel, Kathy Krodel.
“It’s the teacher’s job to nourish the children’s brains, but it’s my job to nourish their body so that their brains are open to learning,” said Krodel.
Kathy Krodel has served meals to thousands of kids in the Hanover school district for almost three decades. When it came to Asher, she was determined to find a variety of foods she could eat.
“Miss Krodel called me and she’s like, ‘Well, they gave me the list, but there’s nothing on it.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s all she can have.’ And she was like, ‘No, it’s not. I’ll find more.’ Suddenly it became me talking to her multiple times a week, and Asher being thrilled to eat food,” said Waldrop.
“She makes me safe food because I have allergies,” said Asher. “She makes me French toast sticks and chicken nuggets.” - Two things that Asher was unable to eat before.
Ms. Krodel considers herself a surrogate mother to all of the kids in the cafeteria, and she loves Asher as if she was her own.
“I wanted to make sure that Asher’s experience at school was the same as everybody else’s experience. I didn’t want her to feel like she was different,” said Krodel.
That’s because Asher is like any other student her age - just ask her about her favorite video game.
“Roblox and Minecraft. It’s fun you can get Roblox and create an avatar,” said Asher.
At lunch, Ms. Krodel says she has a support system.
“I don’t see anybody in her class feeling like she’s gotten privileged attention, they all seem to rally around her.”
It’s why Ka’ea wanted to honor Ms. Krodel with the NBC12 Acts of Kindness.
“It’s the fact that she doesn’t think it’s special; that makes it special,” said Waldrop.
For Ms. Krodel, her cafeteria is a place where kids can simply be kids. As long as she’s serving meals, and hugs – Ms. Krodel says she will go above and beyond for each and every one of her students.
“For her to feel that she wanted to do that, just her confidence in me is worth more than anything.”
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