COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus City Schools will serve free breakfast and lunch to all children 18 and under while schools are closed due to coronavirus concerns.
The district says this applies to CCS students as well as children who are not CCS students.
The meals will be pre-packaged and ready to pick up and take home.
Students will be required to eat the meals elsewhere.
In addition, both Dublin City Schools and Pickerington Local Schools will also offer take-home meals for students in need.
In response to a request from the Gov. Mike DeWine administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved two waiver requests to continue school breakfast and lunch programs during Ohio’s K-12 school closures.
Schools will be permitted to provide every child under 18 with “grab and go” meals to ensure that no child goes hungry during the course of DeWine’s order to close schools. The Ohio Department of Education will also develop a process to give school districts the unprecedented ability to deliver meals to homes.
“For some students, the only regular meals they receive are the ones they get at school, and we realize closing schools will make it even more difficult for them and their families,” said DeWine. “In these uncertain times, we are ensuring children will have access to healthy meals, guaranteed, just like if they were going to school.”
KJ Williams, 12, won’t be in class for the next few weeks but he’ll still be stopping by a local school with his mom.
“It’s gonna be really helpful,” he said.
He eats breakfast and lunch at school every day and says he has friends who rely on the food much more than him. Even when school’s out, he’ll still be able to pick up those meals.
While schools are closed because of the coronavirus, anyone under 18 in Columbus can stop by 13 different sites to pick up breakfast and lunch for free.
“Very important because these kids definitely depend on these meals,” said KJ’s mother, Shelisa.
Columbus Board of Education President Jennifer Adair said, to start, each site will start with 500 meals.
“If we see there’s more of a need in one area of the city, we will make adjustments,” Adair said. “Every day is a different day”
According to Adair, since many students rely on buses to get to school and have those meals, they’re working with community partners on how those students can still get their food. She also realizes, given how many other centers are closed, childcare could be challenging.
“We are in a time where we’re all just gonna have to figure it out and lean on one another so I really hope that’s what we can do as Columbus and I believe we can,” she said.
Prepackaged breakfast will be available from 8 to 9 each morning and lunch from 11 to 1. If there are lines, district leaders said people will not be turned away.
“Being able to eat at school, free lunch and free breakfast it’s definitely much needed,” Shelisa Williams said.
The district cannot cover dinners and weekends.
There are 13 confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ohio as of Friday, March 13.