Local School Districts Ensure Students Don’t Go Hungry During Outbreak

With schools being closed throughout the metro area due to the coronavirus, school districts are working with families and students who rely on schools for meals. KGNU’s Rosanna Longo visited one of the emergency food pickup events put on by the Boulder Valley School District.

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On March 18th, Governor Polis announced all Colorado schools would remain closed until April 17th leaving thousands of Colorado families wondering how they would supply the meals their children usually receive at school.

Families line up at Crestview Elementary to receive emergency meals

This week at Crestview Elementary in North Boulder, BVSD handed out bags with canned goods, bread, granola bars, produce and dairy products to families.

At the event, Amy Thompson with the School Food Project told KGNU, “Over the past two days at the Boulder Valley School District Education Center we’ve packed out over 2,000 bags of food. We didn’t know what the need was going to be so we dispersed them amongst nine schools. We’re staring with 250 bags here and we’ve got more stock on the way.”

BVSD’s Emergency Food Program is handing out the bags no questions asked and is not requiring any of the recipients to have previously signed up with the School Food Progam.

Thompson says that’s because, “Food is a human right and we feel that the need is out there. Families are hungry. We do have our typical free, reduced [meal] families but there’s a lot of families didn’t qualify for it but maybe now in the economic situation and what’s happening maybe they are becoming food insecure when they weren’t a couple weeks ago. We don’t think it’s our position here to question families. We just want them to come and get the resources they need to be healthy.”

Workers say the program is taking the most precautions possible to ensure the food is clean, safe and not contaminated. In addition to the food preparation, the team is practicing social distancing as much as possible and handing the bags to recipients as they wait in the line of cars. However, if necessary food bag will be given to anyone that arrives by bike or on foot.

Diane Brenton is the Coordinator of Equity and Partnerships for BVSD’s Northwest Network and she says a commonly held misconception is that families of color have the greatest need for emergency meals.

“It’s absolutely not that way,” says Brenton. “We have lots of families who fly under the radar who also have a need and aside from that there are families whose breadwinner has recently lost their job under these circumstances.”

Diane Brenton, Coordinator of Equity & Partnerships for North BVSD hands out food to any family that asks. No identification of any kind is needed.

Brenton and others say they are honored to work in a school district that’s thinking about families beyond the classroom. Another part of the community that’s pitching in is the natural food industry that’s also donating to the effort so a verity of healthy natural food will also be on offer.

BVSD says they are not currently planning food distribution during Spring Break (March 23-27) but they will continue the food pickups after Spring Break. St. Vrain Valley School District will resume operation of 11 drive-thru pickup sites where students, families, and staff can receive lunch and breakfast food items between 11:00 a.m. -12:30 p.m. on Friday, March 20, if weather permits.

Find more information on the Boulder Valley School District Emergency Food Program here.

Find more information on the St. Vrain Valley School District emergency meals here.

Find more information on the Denver Public Schools emergency meals here.

CLICK HERE to open a map showing all emergency food pick up locations and find the one nearest you.

SVVSD Meal Distribution Locations:

  • Timberline PK-8
  • Northridge Elementary School
  • Altona Middle School
  • Sunset Middle School
  • Soaring Heights PK-8
  • Frederick High School
  • Mead Middle School
  • Lyons High School (12:00 -12:30 only)
  • Hygiene Elementary School (11:00 -11:30 only)
  • Niwot High School
  • Learning Services Center

BVSD Meal Distribution Locations:

Sanchez Elementary School/ Primaria Sanchez
Creekside Elementary/ Primaria Creekside
Crest View Elementary School/ Primaria Crestview
Columbine Elementary/ Primaria Columbine
Emerald Elementary/ Primaria Emerald
Louisville Middle School/ Secundaria Louisville
Nederland Middle-Senior High School/ Preparatoria Nederland
Pioneer Elementary School/Escuela Bilingüe Pioneer
University Hill Elementary School/ Primaria University Hill