School staff serve meals to families during school shutdown

    St. James Nutrition Services kicked off its first week of feeding children in the community while school is out due to COVID-19. Cars pulled up to the Lucy Wortham James Elementary School to receive breakfast and lunches for two days. The nutrition department will continue to offer these meals as long as school is out due to the pandemic.

    “We had 150 families call in and ask about it,” School Nutrition Director Linda Webster said. While more families may be served during the school closure, she said there was a definite need to provide food to families. Utilizing social distancing, staff member prepared sandwiches, chips, breakfast foods, and other items, putting them into bags that were given to parents with curbside pickup at the facility.
    Webster noted the district was concerned about how to help families while school is out, as many families will be stretched financially as they remain indoors for the foreseeable future. To combat this, the district decided to offer meals for those kids to eat until school could return to regular operation.
    Each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. meals will be provided for students at the Lucy Wortham James Elementary School building, located at 314 South Jefferson Street. Families will receive two breakfasts and two lunch meals for every child and meals will be available for free for anyone 18 and under regardless of what school they attend. No paperwork is required. Children must be present for meals to be provided.
    Staff will prepare and supply bags of food and families can drive through the parking lot where a booth is set up. Volunteers will be available to hand out the bags with limited physical interaction for a quick pick up.
    Webster said this is a way to provide meals to those who need it while also working to reduce the risk of COVID-19. Staff members are taking precautions to use social distancing, with a limit to the number of people in each room preparing bags. Staff members used several rooms in and around the kitchen at the elementary school on Monday and are taking every action possible to sanitize and practice health guidelines as suggested by the Center for Disease Control and health officials.
    “We’ll continue this until we are back in school,” Webster said. “If there is a lockdown, then we will go to delivery only,” she added. There has, so far, not been any changes made to the plan for St. James Schools to extend the April 6 return date, but Webster said the program will continue even if that date is moved. The goal is to ensure every child has the resources they need to get through this pandemic and staff will do everything possible to help.
    Along with the drive-through style lunch pickup, volunteers are also aiding with home deliveries for families not able to make it during the program. Anyone needing delivery is encouraged to call 573-261-3555 or 573-261-3712 on scheduled days after 7 a.m. and arrangements can be made.
    Webster said she was very pleased with Monday’s turnout and hopes she and her staff can help during this time of need.

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