Districts across the valley are providing free meals to kids while schools are closed. But some parents in the Deer Valley Unified School District say they were turned away last week after some schools ran out of food.
Parents Anna Ragan and Michelle Glisson say they both are living on fixed incomes and rely heavily on the meal program to feed their kids.
“We’re in a situation where that food really lets us stretch what little we have right now,” Glisson said.
But last Monday, both mothers say after waiting nearly an hour in line at separate schools they were told there was no more food left.
Ragan was at Boulder Creek High School when she was turned away.
“They didn’t have a sign-out or anything,” she said. “You waited in line and then they said that they were out of food.”
Communications Director for the Deer Valley Unified School District Monica Allread says the district saw a sudden surge of families coming for a free meal last Monday.
She says in one week, the number of kids they served jumped by 2,500, causing them to run out of food at every site.
She says since the program started, the amount of meals they’ve served has tripled.
“This demand definitely put some strain on the system but we don’t want to turn any kids away,” she said. “We’ve ramped up production of the meals and have tried to streamline how we’re handing them out and we’re as shocked as anybody by how much the demand is.”
Allread says they have ordered more food to keep up with the demand. She says right now there’s a high demand for to-go style food and low supply, so they’re re-purposing their inventory and working with vendors to get whatever they can.
Ragan and Glisson have suggested that the schools allow students who qualify for free or reduced meals to show up before everyone else. They say they were told by the district’s superintendent that right now, all families are in the same boat.
Allread says the meals they serve are part of a federal program, not a school program. She says allowing some students to get a meal before others would be against federal guidelines.
Children are allowed to go to any participating school across the valley to get a meal. But Ragan says not everyone can get there.
“Not everyone has the resources to say, hey I have the gas money to get there. Some people do have a savings account but some only have $18 in their checking account,” she said.
Allread says April 6 was the first time they ever ran out of food. She says another site ran out of food on April 13, but the families were able to go to another nearby site to get their meal.