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Districts taking meals, homework on the road during school closures

School meal
Posted at 2:49 PM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-25 20:20:32-04

Schools across the state may be closed but district food and nutrition teams are working harder than ever to make sure families can still access meals and learning materials.

It’s barely 8 a.m. but the Creighton Elementary School District’s Child Nutrition and Wellness team is already on the move in Phoenix.

“We want to make sure they’re kept fueled and ready to learn so when school gets back up and going they’re ready to go,” said the district’s Child Nutrition and Wellness Director, Erin Bronner.

The district has nine locations where employees pass out free breakfast and lunch to anyone under 18. Adults can buy breakfast for $1.00 or lunch for $2.00. Students can also pick up homework packets, sorted by grade, so they can keep learning while they’re at home.

Sylvia Figueroa says the program is keeping her three children fed and on track.

“I was worried,” Figueroa said. “They can access it online but I really wanted a physical copy for them to write on it. I even have a homework schedule for them.”

The district runs a similar program over the summer where families sit on the actual bus to eat. Right now because of social distancing and safety, they set up a table outside the bus where families can grab their meals and their children’s learning packets.

Similar scenes play out daily across the Valley. The Roosevelt School District launched its 19 locations Monday. Phoenix Union High School District served more than 8,000 meals on Tuesday, and the largest district in our state, Mesa Public School, served 80,000 meals in just the first week.

“It’s not the same, it’s difficult doing school work from home,” said Lucia Lopez Torres. “They’re helping a lot of people with less resources by providing them also with meals.”

The costs of launching a summer meal program in the spring are adding up as the district keeps employees working full-time. Still, there are no plans to slow down.

“We’re all about feeding the kids and making them reach their full potential,” said Bronner. “It’s just our passion.”