This story first appeared in the Addison Independent.
ADDISON COUNTY — Addison County school districts are organizing efforts to feed children while classes are out of session due to the coronavirus. Many low-income families depend on school breakfasts, lunches and snacks to nourish their children while relieving financial burden.
All public schools in Vermont were ordered closed by Wednesday, March 18 — most Addison County Schools closed on Tuesday. This raised concerns about the nourishment void this might create for children.
As the Independent went to press on Wednesday, here are the efforts the Addison Central, Mount Abraham, Addison Northwest and Rutland Northeast school districts were making to get food to students during what could be a prolonged period of distance learning:
Beginning on March 19, bagged meals (breakfast and lunch) will be prepared in a “safe and sanitary environment” at the Middlebury Union High School kitchen.
“To exercise the recommended social distancing, we will provide meals initially using a drive-through pick-up style of service,” reads a press release to the ACSD community.
Meals will be free to all children ages 18 and under, no application or prior approval is needed.
Meals will be available Monday through Friday, rain or shine, at the following pick-up locations:
• Middlebury Union High School, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
• Salisbury Community School, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Each pick-up location will provide a child with breakfast and lunch for each day.
Fill out a form to indicate if you will be picking up meals for your child(ren), where you will pick those meals up, and if you have transportation challenges. Alternatively, you can contact Dan Whittemore by phone at 774-289-5856. If you leave a message, please indicate your name, address, a call back number, the number of children needing meals, where you plan to pick meals up and/or if you have transportation challenges.
If you have any questions or concerns, email Brittany Gilman ([email protected]) or call Dan Whittemore at 774-289-5856.
In addition to this meals program, there is an option to receive grocery staples weekly. Families can use both the meals and grocery programs. These groceries will be available for pickup every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the following locations: MUHS, Shoreham Elementary School, Bridport Central School, Ripton Elementary School, and Salisbury Community School. This service is available to all ACSD families. In an effort to practice infection control and social distancing when picking up groceries or meals, families will be asked to remain in their cars, as if pulling through a drive-through. Food will be brought to you. If transportation is an issue, email Eva McDonough: [email protected], Gina Ciancia Jackson, [email protected], or Kelly Landwehr: [email protected]
Plans are under way to prepare meals for delivery and pick up to all MAUSD students, according to district Superintendent Patrick Reen.
“As additional details are ready to share they will be communicated via Facebook, email, Twitter, the MAUSD website and/or via our messaging system,” Reen stated through an email to the MAUSD community. “We expect this to be a prolonged closure, and are working with intentionality to create learning and support that our community needs during this challenging world event. Thank you for your patience as we work in these unprecedented times to support our students the best way we can.”
Mount Abe officials shared their meal plans online here.
Click on the link “Update on the link FEEDING OUT KIDS”
Essentially, the plan is to drop of breakfast and lunch on the bus route, and make breakfast/lunch pickup available at some sites in each of the five towns in the districts: Bristol, Monkton, New Haven, Lincoln and Starksboro.
Click on the links for details.
District Superintendent Sheila M. Soule provided the following on the ANWSU website: “Our primary areas of focus include the wellbeing of our students, families, and employees.”
ANWSD will deliver one breakfast and one lunch per child to every student starting Thursday, March 19. Meals are available to any child under age 18 free of charge. School buses will deliver the meals on their regular routes on a two-hour delay schedule. Parents or children can pick up the meals when the bus stops; meals will not be left if no one is there.
For studenta not on bus routes, grab-and-go sites for meal pickup will be arranged for daily distribution between 10 and 10:20 a.m.
Meanwhile, starting Wednesday, March 18, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vergennes started providing take-out meals and meal delivery to anyone (including kids through seniors) in the 5-town school district free of charge. This includes Addison, Ferrisburgh, North Ferrisburgh, Panton, Vergennes, Waltham and West Addison. These meals will be available while the ANWSD schools are closed. All meals will be packaged in recyclable materials, club officials said.
Order a club meal by filling out the online form that can be found online here or you may call the Boys & Girls Club at 870-7199.
Leave a message saying which days you would like meals, how many meals you need and if you will be picking up meals or having meals delivered. If you need delivery please give your home address including house number, street name and town.
Take-out meals can be picked up at the club on 20 Armory Lane between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome to pick up meals.
Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union serves over 1,300 students in Brandon, Pittsford, Sudbury, Leicester, Whiting and Goshen. Superintendent Jeanne Collins said the school district plans to deliver lessons to students at home via the fleet of RNeSU school buses. That’s also how the district plans to deliver breakfast and lunch to the hundreds of students who rely on school meals.
Starting March 19, breakfast and lunch bags will be delivered by school bus to students who have signed up for meals. Starting next week, Collins said those meals will be delivered by bus with lessons to those students who aren’t working online.
“We will be able to serve any child under the age of 18,” Collins said. “Paraeducators will help the drivers, some will help the teachers. The kitchen will continue to prepare meals. It’s our intention to keep everyone employed. That’s the goal.”
Editor’s note: Brandon Reporter Editor Lee J. Kahrs contributed to this story.