As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, local school districts are continuing to offer free meals for children.
Amber Watson, director of nutrition services for Marysville Joint Unified School District, said meal distribution at MJUSD resumed on Tuesday after winter break.
“We took the two weeks off that school was closed and didn’t serve meals during the break,” Watson said. “We decided to give our staff a rest.”
She said things have slowed down quite a bit – distribution numbers started dipping after Thanksgiving break.
In December, they were averaging about 2,000-2,200 meals per day – Watson said they peaked at about 3,200 in October.
She said when students were utilizing the hybrid schedule and were in the classroom, they were ramping up distribution but after the return to distance learning, things slowed down.
Watson said one of the main challenges for the meal distribution has been staffing due to COVID-19.
“Our district has a very robust screening process for staff,” she said.
Watson said no COVID-19 symptoms can be reported, the state has a travel quarantine and more cases in the county means more contacts – if a staff member has a symptom, that can mean a multiple-day exclusion.
“Families need assistance, we know that,” Watson said. “... People being at home and potentially missing work could mean they have less income or they don’t have access to healthy food … We’re only meeting about a quarter of our usual participation.”
All children up to 18 years are eligible to receive meals. Breakfast, lunch, supper and a snack are included through the distribution. Meals can be picked up without the child present.
Watson said a punch card is required. To get a punch card, the parent can go through the meal service line and ask the staff for one. Watson said they will ask for some information about the child – such as name, grade and school they attend (if they’re not yet in school, they would ask for the child’s age).
“All children are eligible,” Watson said. “... They’re not taking food away from someone else, but in reality, they’re actually helping the overall program by participating. No child is less eligible than the other, they’re all eligible.”
Yuba City Unified School District
Chelsey Slattery, director of child nutrition, purchasing and warehouse services at Yuba City Unified School District, said daily meal distribution will resume on Jan. 11 – which is when students are scheduled to return to distance learning.
When students were on the hybrid model, Slattery said they were doing deliveries to the classrooms and curbside distribution.
She said participation went up significantly when students were on campus.
The district has been distributing between 1,800 and 3,000 meals per day – with more than 3,000 while students were on campus.
“Distance learning makes it a little harder for families to get out to pick up food,” Slattery said.
She said one of the main challenges for the district is planning for the number of students who will pick up meals and making sure they have the appropriate amount of food.
Meals are available for all children ages 0-18 regardless of where they reside. Families can just go through the pickup line and the child doesn’t need to be present.
Breakfast, lunch, supper and a snack are included.
On Fridays, meals for the weekend are sent home as well as Friday’s meals.
“With the ongoing pandemic, I think it’s a necessity, we have a lot of families struggling,” Slattery said. “... This helps them stretch their food dollars a little bit and make sure they’re able to feed their kiddos. That’s the most important.”
Meal distribution schedule
Marysville Joint Unified School District offers free meal distribution Monday through Friday to all children 0-18 years old. A punch card is required – those who don’t have one can ask for one at the meal distribution sites – and children don’t need to be present to pick up meals.
Here’s the meal distribution schedule:
–Browns Valley Elementary School from 11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
–Cordua Elementary School from 11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
–Cedar Lane Elementary School from noon-1:15 p.m.
–Edgewater Elementary School from noon-1:15 p.m.
–Linda Elementary School from noon-1:15 p.m.
–Ella Elementary School from 12:15-1:15 p.m.
–Kynoch Elementary School from 12:15-1:15 p.m.
–Lindhurst High School from 12:15-1:15 p.m.
–Arboga Elementary School from 12:30-1:15 p.m.
–Covillaud Elementary School from 12:30-1:15 p.m.
–Marysville High School from 12:30-1:15 p.m.
–Olivehurst Elementary School from 12:30-1:15 p.m.
–Yuba Gardens Intermediate School from 12:30-1:15 p.m.
–Yuba Feather Elementary School from 12:30-1:15 p.m.
–Foothill Intermediate School from 12:30-1 p.m.
–Dobbins Elementary School from 12:30-1 p.m.
For more information and updates, visit www.mjusdnutrition.com.
Yuba City Unified School District offers free meals Monday through Friday to all children 18 years old and younger.
The child doesn’t need to be present for meals to be picked up.
Here’s the meal distribution schedule:
–River Valley High School from 7-8 a.m. and noon-1 p.m.
–Yuba City High School from 7-8 a.m. and noon-1 p.m.
–Gray Avenue Middle School from 7-8 a.m. and noon-1 p.m.
–Barry Elementary School from 10:50-11:20 a.m.
–Andros Karperos School from 11:10-11:40 a.m.
–Lincoln Elementary School from 11:10-11:40 a.m.
–Lincrest Elementary School from 11:15-11:45 a.m.
–King Avenue Elementary School from 11:15-11:45 a.m.
–Tierra Buena Elementary School from 11:15-11:45 a.m.
–Bridge Street Elementary School from 11:30 a.m.-noon.
–Riverbend Elementary School from 11:30 a.m.-noon.
–Bernard Children’s Center from noon-12:30 p.m.
–Park Avenue Elementary School from 12:30-1 p.m.
–Butte Vista Elementary School from 12:30-1 p.m.
–April Lane Elementary School from 12:45-1:15 p.m.
For more information, visit www.ycusd.org and go to “Student Nutrition” under the “Departments” tab.