Schools getting food to hungry kids during crisis

Caesar Rodney’s Child Nutrition Supervisor Paul Rodgers hands out bags of food at Allen Frear Elementary School on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — With cafeteria tables loaded with bags of food, frozen meat and academic packets consisting of three weeks worth of work, Academy of Dover was ready for its families.

“We just said, ‘This is what we need to do and we need to do it right away,’” said Michele Marinucci, head of school.

Tuesday was the second day the charter school came together to get meals and school work out to its students. On Monday, staff members boarded buses and traveled routes to hand out food and academic work, Dr. Marinucci said.

The academy was one of several that geared up to close the gaps students and their families would be facing as schools were directed to close late last week by Gov. John Carney.

With the support of Kaizen Karate and Haass’ Family Butcher Shop, the school packaged breakfasts and lunches and gave away 400 pounds of meat to its families.

Friday, the charter school already had a scheduled professional development day planned. They scrapped that agenda and dedicated themselves to jumping in to prepare for a shutdown, Dr. Marinucci said.

“We pulled together what we could, pretty much by working this weekend,” she said. “It’s a matter of jump and go and look at how we can continue to improve.”

Nancy Forster, owner of Nancy’s Café in Milford, keeps busy in the kitchen preparing free lunches with the help of friend Joey Phillips Tuesday. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Throughout the state, school districts established sites for food pickup and other organizations, from local eateries to area businesses, pulled together to fill the gaps.

“We had to work fast and furious to pull this off,” said Paul Rodgers, child nutrition supervisor at Caesar Rodney School District.

The district handed out breakfast and lunch at several sites beginning Tuesday.

Crystal Shockley, who works for the district in the transportation department, came by Allen Frear Elementary School to pick up the two meals.

While she called her three children “pretty self-sufficient” during the days of school being closed, she said the support from the district when it came to food was impactful.

“I’m glad they do it,” she said. “It’s a help.”

Stephanie Rieffer agreed.

“It’s fortunate to have schools doing this,” she said.

It gave her little ones, who aren’t quite school-aged yet, a way to learn about school lunch, she said.

Jacqueline Sorrells, Youth Coordinator for The Salvation Army Sussex Corps, loads the TSA’s Canteen with some of the 400 lunches delivered to children Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe).

Ms. Rieffer noted she has used the district’s summer food services in the past, which has taught her children about ordering for themselves.

She added that she was shocked when she went to the grocery store and saw the lack of stock, and was worried about all three of her children being home for at least two weeks given the governor’s directive.

“I’d rather have those resources (in the grocery store) go to someone else,” she said, adding it was a good thing the schools didn’t have to waste any food they had.

Mr. Rodgers said staff members at Fifer Middle School are preparing meals for the following day.

Nancy’s Café owner Nancy Forster makes homemade noodles for soup she was giving away to anyone that stopped by her 22 S.Walnut St. location in Milford Tuesday. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

“We’ve been receiving a ton of inquiries of people wanting to help — teachers, principals, paraprofessionals, families,” he said, adding that he was thankful for that response.

For the parents who aren’t able to take their children to the sites for free meals, DelDOT’s DART will begin offering students free bus rides from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on regularly scheduled bus routes to access school meal programs, until schools are back in session, a release announced.

A list of school districts providing meals can be found at bit.ly/DSNSchoolLunches.


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