Akron Public Schools, CMSD provide pick up times for students on free meal plans during distance learning

Updated: Aug. 21, 2020 at 1:54 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - You can virtually learn but you can’t virtually eat. So schools are developing plans to get free meals to the kids who need it more than ever now.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities up to 20 percent of adults with children reported that their children sometimes or often didn’t eat enough in the last seven days because they couldn’t afford it, well above the pre-pandemic figure.

That’s as many as 17 million children nationwide.

Free and reduced lunches are more important than ever for kids enrolled in those programs. According to the Center on...

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Districts like Akron Public Schools have been working through the summer to get kids nutritious meals and fight the food insecurity that has ballooned in this pandemic.

“I really worry about the kids we don’t see. We’ve been serving meals through the pandemic and that’s really what’s kept me going to work. It was really scary at first, obviously. 252 I think we were all terrified. But I knew that every day what I was doing was really helping but I was worried about the kids I used to see every day that I no longer see,” said Heather Hillenbrand.

Hillenbrand works part time in child nutrition for Akron Public Schools.

They will still provide breakfast and lunch for kids while they learn virtually, but families will have to get to a distribution locations, daily.

“One of the issues is hard though is transportation. I know that some of our higher risk students probably don’t have as much access to getting to the school to get the meals and I worry about them.”

CMSD is addressing this issue by giving families two options during virtual learning.

“They can pick up meals on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. They’ll get a sack lunch and sack breakfast. On Tuesdays they’ll get two lunches and two breakfasts and we’re going to use Wednesday to restock and sanitize to ensure safety. if families prefer a once a week pick up then they can go to one of 17 high school sites that will offer pick up for the entire week,” said CMSD CEO, Eric Gordon.

There are more limits on food choices for the weekly pick ups because they’ll have to keep for the week. And there are fewer choices if any and fewer varieties with these grab and go meals because they have to travel and not require heating.

But they will meet the USDA guidelines.

For a list of distribution sites in Akron, click here.

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