In Governor Walz’s School Closure Guidance for Public School Districts, he directed school districts across the state to continue providing meals for children. Local school districts are providing breakfast and lunch to students while schools are closed. For many, the program began March 18, 2020, and continues through March 27, 2020. From there, uncertainty remains when schools will reopen.
Long Prairie-Grey Eagle schools are providing breakfast and lunch free of charge, Monday through Friday. Buses leave the building at 9 a.m. to deliver the meals along the bus routes. Someone from the house must meet the bus driver to pick up the meals.
Grab-and-go options for meals are also available at Long Prairie schools. Between 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., Monday through Friday, students can come to the secondary school commons area, or in the lobby of the big gym of the elementary school, for meal pick-up. No meals will be served on site.
Sauk Centre Public Schools has a similar plan. Superintendent Pat Westby said families can sign up for breakfast, lunch, or both, at no charge, for their school-age children. Bus drivers are running their bus routes for meal delivery with the help of paraprofessionals between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. each school day. Families also have the option to pick up their meals at the secondary school front doors between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. The cold sack meals include a sandwich or salad, fruit, vegetables and milk.
Sauk Centre school staff made phone contact with families asking if they choose to participate in the meal program. Families that participate are asked to participate each day through the school closure, currently March 27th.
Jon Fevig, transportation coordinator at Sauk Centre Public Schools, relays that the system is running smoothly. On Wednesday, March 18, the first day of meal program, there were 100 deliveries. Westby said that on Monday, March 23, a total of 380 meals were prepared (breakfast and lunch), and 298 of those were delivered.
Fevig notes the majority of the meals, about 75%, are deliveries. The remaining 25% of meals are picked up at the school entrance.
Buses are busy running six different routes. “We are maintaining good practice with social distance,” Fevig said. “It is critical not to cross-contaminate. A paraprofessional rides on the route and brings food to the door.” At many stops, the paraprofessional will ring the doorbell and leave food in a designated box or place. The routine is becoming established after several days of deliveries, and families appreciate that school staff don’t need to enter the house to deliver food.
The plan at Sauk Centre Public Schools is to continue the food service program unless the Gov. Tim Walz directs them differently, Westby said.
Families are still able to sign up for the program. They should call their child’s school secretary to be added to the list, and Holy Family students should call the Holy Family School office.