SPOKANE, Wash. — Life has been turned upside down for everyone amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, including students.
The changes aren’t just what they experience in the classroom, but also in the lunchroom. The majority of Spokane Public School students rely on free or reduced lunch.
It's only been a couple of days since the governor officially closed schools across the state to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Since then, students and families who rely on meals at school no longer had access to a critical resource.
The Spokane public Schools announced on their website they will start using school buses starting March 30th to deliver meals along routes that reach areas of the community with the highest need.
These areas include, Arlington, Audubon, Cooper, Sheridan and Stevens elementaries.
“As we finish up our ninth official day of COVID closure, we want to thank you -- our families—as well as educators, support staff and school administrators, for ensuring our students have the essential services and learning supports they need,” Ally Barrera, a spokesperson for Spokane Public Schools said in a press release.
Find a list of all sites and more details here.
In addition, SPS launched its meal distribution program at 24 sites including Garfield Elementary School on Thursday. Any student under the age of 18 can pick a meal at any location from 11 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday.
Each bag is filled with nutritious goodies for any student that wants a full breakfast and a lunch.
"We're making it so that it's really easy. It's a bag, they don't have to touch anything. We've all washed, sanitized, put our gloves on, so we're maintaining a safe production for those families and hopefully they bring the kids to get a good notorious breakfast and lunch,” explained Doug Wordell, with SPS Nutrition Services.
The grab-and-go meals are a gesture that means so much to parents as they navigate this new normal.
"It's been very different, it's been super interesting trying to keep it calm and as structured as I can for the kids,” Amy Sherman, a mother of two, said.
However, this is not easy for most SPS families. If the 31,000, 57% are on free or reduced meals, which is about 18,000 students district-wide.
"This is an opportunity for us as a district to step up and say, 'Hey, we're community members and take care of kids, we're going to do whatever we can',” Wordell said.
It's why this meal means so much for Sherman and her two kids.
"I mean, really everything thing has changed, people are losing their jobs, stores are sold out of everything, so I'm sure lots of families are very grateful for what the schools are doing,” Sherman said.
SPS is working on increasing meal distribution sites to more schools, with the goal of making every elementary school a distribution site, along with four high schools.
In the meantime, parents are encouraging parents to check-in on the well-being of their kids.
"Our students need stability. They need everyone to stay calm and support and we all need to be patient with each other. These again are very difficult times,” said SPS Superintendent Shelley Redinger.
Hunger doesn't take a break during the summer, or during an emergency. While, their school work is important, so is making sure every child in our community has something to eat.
All of the distribution sites will be open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Anyone up to the age of 18 can pick up a meal for free, and you don't have to be an SPS student.
Grab-and-go distribution sites:
- Arlington, 6363 N. Smith
- Audobon, 2020 W Carlisle Ave
- Balboa, 3010 W. Holyoke
- Beamiss, 2020 W Carlisle Ave
- Cooper, 3200 N Ferrall St
- Finch, 3717 N. Milton
- Garfield, 222 W. Knox
- Grant, 1300 E. 9th
- Holmes, 2600 W. Sharp
- Hutton, 908 E. 24th
- Lidgerwood, 5510 N. Lidgerwood
- Lincoln Heights, 3322 E. 22nd
- Longfellow, 800 E. Providence
- Logan, 1001 E. Montgomery
- Moran Prairie, 4224 E. 57th
- Mullan Road, 2616 E. 63rd
- Ridgeview, 5610 N. Maple
- Roosevelt, 333 W. 14th
- Sheridan, 3737 E. 5th
- Stevens, 1717 E. Sinto
- Shaw MS, 4106 N. Cook
- Rogers HS, 1622 E. Wellesley
- Shadle Park HS, 4327 N. Ash
- Ferris HS, 3020 E. 37th