School-provided grab and go meals set families at ease
As the school closure due to COVID-19 lengthens, local districts are implementing programs to feed area children. Starting Monday, the Brookhaven School District began giving out free grab-and-go meals for children aged 18 and under.
“(Food security) is very important,” Brookhaven School District Superintendent Ray Carlock said. “Lots of kids depend on breakfast or lunch at school. that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
Emergency child nutrition programs are popping up throughout the state following Executive Order 1458 signed by Gov. Tate Reeves on March. 16. One of the mandates in the order is that schools — where feasible — should continue to provide free and reduced meals for students.
But the grab and go lunches in Brookhaven are not limited to students who have qualified for free or reduced lunches, or even students of the district. Any child age 18 or under can receive a lunch and breakfast.
“We’ve had over 300 come through this one site here at Lipsey,” Carlock said. “They’ve gone smoothly, but it’s been more than it would be at a normal summer feeding. It’s really interesting to see. It’s going to stretch a lot of our capabilities.”
Funding for the grab and go lunches during the emergency comes from the federal Summer Food Service Program, and Carlock said the district would order more food as needed.
Drive through grab and go bags of breakfast and lunch will be handed out at Lipsey and Mullins from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Breakfast is intended to be eaten the following morning, and food safety guidance will be provided with the meal.
Currently the program is scheduled through Friday, but it will be extended week by week as necessary. Bags will be delivered to vehicles. Parents and children should not leave their vehicle or congregate.
“If you have children and you have a need, please come and let us serve you,” Carlock said.
The Lincoln County School District will also be giving out free grab and go lunches, according to a letter sent out by Superintendent Mickey Myers Friday. The district is offering both delivery and grab and go options.
Myers said that parents should call their school between the hours of 78 a.m. and noon Monday or Tuesday.
“During that option, please designate a ‘grab and go option’ or delivery,” Myers wrote. “Also, provide the name of students in your home and the address to which the meals will be delivered.”
Myers said that parents should have the name of their regular route bus driver and bus number available. Lincoln County schools will begin handing out lunches Thursday from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., and continue handing out lunches every Monday, Wednesday and Friday until schools re-open.
Myers said the lunches will be provided for free — regardless of free or reduced lunch status — for pre-schoolers through age 18.
“If it is more convenient, Lincoln County students may participate in this state of emergency nutrition program at Mullins or Lipsey Schools in the Brookhaven School District and vice versa,” Myers wrote.
Lawrence County also began giving out grab and go lunches Monday. They will continue to do so Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Children must be 18 or younger, and present in the vehicle to receive a meal.
The meals will be handed out at New Hebron Attendance Center, Rod Paige Middle School and Topeka Tilton Attendance Center.
Lawrence County is also offering meals for adults age 19 and older for $3.50. The schools are accepting cash only, and exact change is required.
Wesson Attendance Center began handing out grab and go lunches Monday. They will offer the lunches at the parent pick-up line from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.
WAC Principal Marilyn Phillips said that the demand was high, with the school giving out 115 lunches Monday.
“That was more than I thought we would have actually show up,” Phillips said.
Phillips said that, if the need is great enough, the schools may begin delivering lunches to drop-off points around the area. Details will be announced at a later date.