School meals still available
While classroom learning at the K-12 public schools in Kansas has been canceled for the rest of the semester (see related story), the three school districts in Jackson County have already announced plans to continue providing school meals for children at off-site locations, until further notice, it has been reported.
Holton, Royal Valley and Jackson Heights are all offering off-site meals for kids and each district’s plans for this program are a little different.
A summary of each district’s off-site meal plans is listed below.
The Holton school district’s off-site meal program will resemble the district’s summer meal program, except kids will not enter a school building to be fed, said Michael Adkins, food service director.
Adkins said that starting today (Wednesday), the Holton school district will provide free meals to any children ages 1 to 18 on weekdays between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at two curbside locations - Holton Elementary School (812 W. Fifth St.) and the Denison Community Center/Library (111 Central Ave.).
Adkins said each child traveling in vehicles arriving at the two curbside locations will receive a lunch and a breakfast (for the next day). On Fridays, he said, double meals will be provided to each child to help out over the weekend.
Adkins also said that each child who walks up to curbside locations will be served meals, also.
Adkins said the district is not allowed to sell the meals to adults, or give them to adults if children are not present.
He stressed that the district is not requiring anyone to sign up for the free meals. No one will be allowed to enter the school buildings, Adkins said.
Royal Valley Superintendent Aaric Davis told board of education members Monday evening that the district has received a state waiver to provide free meals to students while schools are closed.
“This biggest thing we’re working on is food service,” Davis told board members Monday. “There’s going to be a lot of students without breakfast or lunch while we’re on this closure. While we don’t normally provide that service over the summer months or spring break, I feel like this is something different. Families didn’t have time to plan for this. If families are unable to work because of their job, I’m worried about their meals.”
With the waiver, the district will begin providing “grab and go” sack meals starting today (Wednesday) for any child ages one to 18. Students must be present to receive the meals.
The meals can be picked up from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each week day at RVHS in Hoyt or RVMS in Mayetta using the drop-off/bus lanes in front of each building.
A lunch will be provided along with a breakfast meal for the following morning. Staff members will be outside directing traffic flow and passing out meals.
To help the district determine the number of meals needed, district patrons are asked to call the district office at 785-966-2246 or contact Jessica Bryan at firstname.lastname@example.org
“The kids have to be physically present to receive the meal,” Davis said. “We can’t just have the parents come get the meals. If we wanted to, we could distribute multiple days of meals at a time. My recommendation is to hand out one meal at a time to see what it looks like. We don’t know if we’re going to have 10 students show up or 150 students.”
Board members gave their consensus to move forward with the meal distribution, and board member Boone Smith asked about students who are unable to get a ride or walk to one of the schools to pick up a non-perishable meal.
“We don’t have the authority to deliver the meals to people’s doors or pick up kids and take them to the meal site,” Davis said.
At Jackson Heights, school meal deliveries to students who live in the district’s four communities — Circleville, Netawaka, Soldier and Whiting — are starting today (Wednesday), according to Superintendent Adrianne Walsh, who noted that a set number of meals will be delivered to each drop-off location based on demand received at the district office.
“At this point, it’s 27 meals that we’ll be providing between the four towns,” Walsh said yesterday of the district’s off-site meal plan. “KSDE is highly encouraging schools to do this, because for some kids, the school lunch is one of the best meals that they get.”
District officials put together an internet-based survey for parents of district students for release this past Monday, and as of yesterday morning, Walsh said she had received at least 60 responses to the survey.
“I wasn’t sure about our need, but right now, it seems small,” she said. “Several of those who responded said, ‘No, it’s not a need,’ and I had a few ask, ‘It’s not a need right now in these couple of weeks, but if things continue, can I change my answer?’”
About 30 meals will be prepared for those who have requested them, and although the meals may not be served “hot” due to the distance between the school and the pick-up points, they can be re-heated and will contain breakfast items that students may consume the next day, Walsh said. Meals may be picked up by parents or approved guardians, she added.
Meals will be delivered Monday through Friday for pick-up at Circleville Christian Church, the Netawaka Community Building, Soldier City Hall and the Whiting Community Building. Pick-up will be available from 11:30 a.m. to noon at all locations except the Netawaka Community Building, where pick-up will be available from 12:15 p.m. to 12:45 p.m.
Parents of Jackson Heights students who would like for their children to receive the meals are asked to contact the district office at 364-2194.