Unprecedented Times, Unprecedented Authorizing: Public Charter Schools Serve 10,000+ Meals in One Day
For a little over nine weeks, staff from public charter schools and volunteers across the district have been showing up to support students and families, in particular around providing meals during the crisis. As of May 11, public charter schools across all sites served 10,169 meals to families - the highest number of meals provided to families in a single day.
There are more than 20 public charter school locations where all students can get breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner.
At our April 29 Board meeting, staff from Friendship Public Charter Schools, Maya Angelou Public Charter Schools, and Capital City Public Charter Schools shared their meal distribution efforts and the impact that it has had on families during the crisis.
Educators at Friendship PCS (as of April 20), have served more than 14,500 meals to families. The Friendship Southeast Elementary and Middle School site has served roughly 3,000 meals alone. Families can pick up multiple meals at all their locations on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Principal Lawery of Friendship Southeast Elementary believes their ‘grab and go’ food distribution has been an integral part of services that they provide to their families.
Lawery adds, “we wouldn’t be able to do half of the work without their [staff] dedication to our community.”
In the coming weeks, Friendship Schools will start a meal delivery service that will allow them to serve an additional 2,000 families per week.
Maya Angelou Public Charter Schools implemented their weekly Community Eats and grocery distribution service in response to the crisis. Community Eats is a ‘grab and go’ hot lunch provided to families, usually on a Wednesday or Thursday, at the school. Social distancing practices are used during pickups, and social-emotional counselors are available to families to talk with onsite.
Grocery delivery to families consists of fresh produce, vegetables, fruits, milk, bread, and more. Educators at Maya Angelou PCS’ are also awaiting the completion of their hydroponic garden so that they can distribute those home-grown crops to families and provide tips on how they can prepare them.
Ms. Lamb says, “[distributing meals] is an opportunity for us to check in with our students, understand how our families are doing but also be of service to the community.”
At Capital City PCS’, the battle between the correct amount of food and frequency of distribution to families was a constant one, and so was their dedication to getting the numbers right. The original meal distribution guidelines required schools to give out one meal per family, which was challenging but eventually modified to accommodate families with multiple children. In early April, Capital City PCS served only 100 meals to families. As of April 20, more than 2,800 meals have been served to the community. Each Monday, families receive a full week’s worth of meals each Monday, which includes seven lunches, seven snacks, milk, and fruit.
Jonathan Weinstein, Chief Operating Officer at Capital City PCS, says that “[they] supplemented meals with fresh vegetables from our school garden. The team is also looking into adding a dinner component to our meals.”
Weinstein adds, “We expect the need for meal distribution to continue over the summer. And we’re glad to hear from OSSE that our and other schools will be able to participate in the Summer Meals Program without any expectation of a gap in meals for our families in our neighborhood.”
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