Schools feed students during shutdown

Brothers Jaden Parnell, a student at Confluence Academy South City, and Jashaun Parnell, a student at Clyde C. Miller Academy, enjoyed lunch at Peabody Elementary School on the city's near South Side on Wednesday, March 18. In partnership with the City of St. Louis and area charter schools, St. Louis Public Schools and food services vendor Southwest Foodservice Excellence are providing free grab-and-go meals at 33 school sites throughout the city while the district is closed.  

Photo by Wiley Price / St. Louis American

School leaders from both St. Louis Public Schools and various charter schools in St. Louis city are working in collaboration to provide free grab-and-go meals at 33 school sites throughout the city during school closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Sunday, March 15, all public school districts in St. Louis County and City, along with the Archdiocese of St. Louis Schools, announced in a joint statement that they would be closing from March 18 until April 3 in order to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In a joint statement issued on March 15, districts stated that the decision to close the region’s public schools was “extremely difficult,” made in consultation with all area superintendents.

“We know that closing our schools will have a significant impact on our families, but we also believe that strong, urgent action must be taken to prevent the spread of this disease and to protect lives,” according to the statement.

“Individual school districts will be in contact with their communities to provide additional information regarding ongoing learning plans, as well as social services for those in need. All districts and schools are focused on this planning and will be in touch in the coming days through whatever communication channels are available to them.”

Given the high number of students in the region eligible for free and reduced who lunch who get much of their nutrition at school, feeding public school children poses a problem.

“We have with us several people who have been working very hard to figure out how we can make sure our kids get the meals they need while children are out,” Mayor Lyda Krewson said at a press conference. 

The 33 school sites will serve meals free of charge for all St. Louis children 18 and younger from 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday for the dates listed (see sidebar). No student ID is required. Students must be present to receive the meal. The meals are “grab-and-go,” meaning students cannot stay at the school to eat them because of social distancing guidance from state and local health agencies. Distribution at each site will occur in the gymnasium.

“It’s important for us to work together in collaboration to really to support the families and children, relative to food,” said Candice Carter-Oliver, chief executive officer for Confluence Charter Schools. “We are pleased that Confluence could be part of this effort.”

In St. Louis County, several school districts also are providing meals.

The Ferguson-Florissant School District Food Service Department started delivering meals to students within its communities, including those not within the school district, on Wednesday, March 18.

Meals are being delivered to 220 locations across the district by school buses and distributed from Cross Keys Middle School, McCluer North, and the STEAM Academy at McCluer South-Berkeley High School. The sites are for meal pick-up only and students should not stay on the campus to eat. The district said it delivered 250-300 meals for breakfast on March 18.

The district plans to deliver meals through Friday, March 20 and then from Monday, March 30 through Friday, April 3. The district will be on spring break from March 21–27.

Jennings School District Superintendent Art McCoy said the district is working on at-home activities, food stations for “grab-and-go” breakfast and lunch meals, and more during this time and if an extension is needed. Two food hubs, thanks to Bayer and St. Louis Area Food Bank, will provide families free food daily. Ferguson-Florissant School District officials said it will provide meals on days that schools are closed. Details on meal distribution will be available soon. More announcements will likely come as spring break comes to an end, which was this week.

Potential extensions of this school closing timeline will continue to be part of their joint discussions and will be shared as soon as these decisions have been made.

“Our goal is always to protect the safety, health, and wellness of our students, staff, and families,” the districts stated. “Our strength as a community is our greatest asset.”

The SLPS meal schedule, a flyer and additional information is available at www.slps.org/meals.

North City Schools:

Bryan Hill 2128 E. Gano 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Clay 3820 N. 14th 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Confluence Academy -

Old North 3017 N. 13th 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Hamilton 5819 Westminster Place 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Hickey 3111 Cora 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Jefferson 1301 Hogan 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

KIPP Victory 955 Arcade 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

La Salle 1106 Jefferson 3/18 - 3/20,

3/30 - 4/3, M-F

Langston 5511 Wabada 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Nance 8959 Riverview 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Patrick Henry 1220 N. 10th 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Pierre Laclede 5821 Kennerly 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Soldan 918 Union 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Vashon 3035 Cass 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Walbridge 5000 Davison 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Yeatman 4265 Athlone 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Downtown/South City Schools:

Carnahan 4041 S. Broadway 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Carondelet Leadership

Academy 7604 Michigan 3/18 - 4/3, M-F

Confluence

Preparatory Academy 310 N. 15th 3/23-4/3, M-F

Confluence Academy -

South City 3112 Meramec 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Fanning 3417 Grace 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Froebel 3709 Nebraska 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

KIPP St. Louis High

School 706 N. Jefferson 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

KIPP Wisdom 1224 Grattan 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Long 5028 Morganford 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Lyon @ Blow 516 Loughborough 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Mallinckrodt 6020 Pernod 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Mullanphy 4221 Shaw 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Peabody 1224 S. 14th 3/18 - 4/3, M-F

Roosevelt 3230 Hartford 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Shaw 5329 Columbia 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Sigel 2050 Allen 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

Wilkinson 1921 Prather 3/23 - 4/3, M-F

For general questions about the program, please contact Deputy Superintendent of Student Support Services Michael Brown at Michael.Brown@slps.org or 314-437-9419. The schedule, a flyer and additional information is available at www.slps.org/meals.

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