WARSAW — Several schools in Kosciusko County and surrounding areas are offering free meals to students during the school corporations’ closings as a preventative measure against COVID-19.
During the closure, Warsaw Community Schools is offering free breakfasts and lunches at seven locations from 11 a.m. to noon Mondays through Fridays. Each morning, staff in WCS’ food and nutrition services department pack 700 breakfasts and 700 lunches for students. From there, staff are taken by bus to each of the sites to give out the meals. The distributed lunches are for the afternoon of pick-up, with the breakfasts for the following morning.
Monday, March 16, was the first day of meal distribution at the sites. According to Shannon Stover, cafeteria manager at Lincoln Elementary School, 19 meals were distributed during the first day at Lincoln. That number was exceeded within 15 minutes of the beginning of Tuesday’s distribution.
“There are way too many kids in need of meals, and we’re feeding a lot of kids in need,” said Stover.
In total, one hundred meal packages are available at each of the following sites: Lakeview Middle School, Claypool Elementary School, Gateway Education Center, Lincoln Elementary School, Leesburg Elementary School, Jefferson Elementary School and Harrison Elementary School. Each meal package includes free breakfast and lunch.
The “grab-and-go” system is ran entirely by WCS staff members. Currently, the meal distribution will happen through April 3. However, Stover said the meal distribution will definitely continue if the school’s closure is extended.
If students have a need for meals but do not have transportation to get to any of the physical sites, Stover said to call WCS Food Services at (574) 371-5086 ext. 5 before 10:30 a.m. on each day to receive assistance. People are also encouraged to reach out and help neighbors, friends or family members if a parent cannot physically pick up a meal for their child.
Even though school staff are handling meal distributions, the school corporation’s Boomerang Backpacks program is in need of volunteers.
Boomerang Backpacks, which is a program that provides free food to students on weekends, is in need of volunteers at 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 26, and Thursday, April 2, at Warsaw Community High School. Warsaw Community Schools bus drivers will then deliver the backpacks on March 27 and April 3.
“The need is great, and our students should still be able to receive this backpack during this time of uncertainty,” said Tracey Akers, coordinator for the Warsaw Boomerang Backpacks program. “We currently pack 450 bags each week, but know that number may increase in the coming weeks.”