School districts, community members providing free lunches for students while schools are closed
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IDAHO FALLS — With schools closed due to the novel coronavirus and grocery stores packed long lines and crowds, many students who usually eat at school, are now in search of meals.
To help alleviate that stress, many organizations are stepping up.
Bonneville Joint School District 93 and Idaho Falls School District 91 are providing food for students, even though school is not in session.
Both districts are distributing free breakfast and lunch for anyone ages 1 to 18. Parents can purchase a meal with District 93 for $6.25 and for $6.60 with District 91, but parents are asked to bring exact change. Children must also be present to receive meals.
“The food insecurity is there (in our community) and it really weighs on all of us … We say we’re feeding to succeed,” D93 Child Nutrition Supervisor Heather Plain said. “When the kids aren’t at school and at home and parent’s are struggling, it never goes away for some families. We just want to make sure our (kids) are taken care of.”
D93 prepared 1,200 meals and served over 800 Thursday morning. The remaining lunches were taken to the Soup Kitchen. Meals will be served Friday. Spring break is the following week and because it’s not an “unanticipated closure,” food won’t be available again until March 30th — if schools aren’t back in session.
Meals can be picked up in a drive-thru style between 10:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Bridgewater Elementary, Falls Valley Elementary, Hillview Elementary, Tiebreaker Elementary and Rocky Mountain Middle School.
District 93 buses deliver food to designated neighborhood bus stops, including the Eden Drive bus stop, the bus stop at Foster and Meppen, the Alan Street bus stop and the bus stop on Adam Drive. A list of the bus stop schedule can be found here.
“We want to feed kids. We just want to know that they have food,” Plain said.
District 91 will hand out meals Monday through Friday, beginning March 23 and continuing until further notice.
The “Grab ‘n Go” food sacks will be at Dora Erickson Elementary School, A.H. Bush Elementary School , Hawthorne Elementary School, Linden Park Elementary School, Temple View Elementary School, Eagle Rock Middle School and Emerson Alternative High School from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
School buses will deliver meals at specific times to certain bus stops. That schedule can be found here.
“We recognize the impact that the school closures has had on our families and we think it’s important to try and support our students during these closures. This is one way that we’re able to do that,” District 91 spokeswoman Margaret Wimborne said.
Several other organizations are also providing free food for students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The locations of where that’s taking place are listed below.
Blackfoot School District 55
Beginning March 23 to April 3 on weekdays only, the Blackfoot Child Nutrition program will have sack lunches available for anyone under the age of 18. Adults are $3.95.
The food can be picked up at bus stops. Buses will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the delivery schedule will run off the elementary PM bus schedule. A list of the bus stops can be found here.
Food can also be picked up at Fort Hall Elementary, Donald D. Stalker Elementary, I.T. Stoddard Elementary, Ridge Crest Elementary, Groveland Elementary, Wapello Elementary, Blackfoot Heritage Sixth Grade, Mountain View Middle School, and Independence High School. Blackfoot High School students can pick up meals at I.T. Stoddard.
Students must be present to receive a meal.
Fremont County Joint School District 215
Free curbside pick up meals will be available for children 1 to 18 years old starting March 23. The food services program will provide both lunch and next day breakfast. This service takes place weekdays from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., but not during spring break.
Meal locations are at Henry’s Fork Elementary and Ashton Elementary.
“(With) students not able to come to school and get their regular lunches, we felt the need (to do this),” Food Service Director Hali Mackert said.
Jefferson School District 251
Lunch and next day breakfast is being served for anyone ages 1 to 18 by the Jefferson Joint School District No. 251. Its food program began Wednesday and concludes for the week on Friday. It picks back up again on March 30. Food is served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Early Childhood Center on Main Street, Midway Elementary, Roberts Elementary and Cottonwood Elementary.
Madison School District 321
A “Grab and Go” Breakfast and sack lunches are available from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Kennedy, South Fork, Madison Middle School, Madison Junior High and Madison High School. This runs until March 27.
Shelley School District
For anyone under 18 years of age, the Shelley School District will have breakfast and lunch meals beginning March 30 until school reopens. Food will be served Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The pickup location will be Sunrise Elementary.
Shelley community members
Shelley residents have donated funds to go towards free sack lunches for any child under 18 or senior citizens. Volunteers will hand out the lunches every day of the week from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Lunches can be picked up at the Shelley City Park, Sunrise Elementary, Riverview Elementary, Woodville LDS Church parking lot and Taylor Park.
“I saw the need in the community,” Missy Poulsen, who came up with the lunch idea, said. “And I have three kids. I didn’t want them to sit home and stare at screens. I wanted them to see that they could be helpers in this time of need. As soon as I knew the school wasn’t offering anything until the 30th, I knew that’s where we could bridge the gap and make a difference.”
The lunches items might vary, but they consist of mainly prepackaged items such as uncrustables sandwiches, string cheese, a granola bar, fruit snack and fruit.
Poulsen said they will continue to hand out lunches as funds permit. If you’re interested in donating, contact Poulsen at (208) 201-5105.
“We just want to help as many people as we can,” Poulsen said.