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Amid closure, schools begin meal handouts

Students must be present to receive breakfast, lunch
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
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Leader photo by CALEB DANIEL

Ruston High School cafeteria worker Dana Rushing hands sack meals to a family outside of Cypress Springs Elementary School Monday morning. The school district will provide breakfast and lunch via parking lot pickup for any child under 18 while schools are closed due to coronavirus concerns.

Update: while the rules listed in this article on receiving the meals were correct for yesterday's distribution, Superintendent Mike Milstead said at a school board meeting Tuesday morning that those rules have changed moving forward. The child does not have to be present in the vehicle for a meal to be given. — March 17

The Lincoln Parish school district began its period of state-mandated school closures in response to the spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, Monday.

One effect of the almost month-long downtime on area families could be the loss of regular meals for students, an issue schools are hoping to mitigate by providing two sack meals a day via pickup.

Cafeterias will be serving breakfast bags and lunch bags at school carlines from 9:30-11 a.m. every Monday through Friday this week and next week, as well as April 6-10 until schools are slated to return April 13. No meals will be served during the week of March 30, which was the school system’s originally scheduled spring break.

Meals can be picked up at the following schools: Ruston Elementary, Simsboro, Dubach, Choudrant High, I.A. Lewis, Cypress Springs, Hillcrest and Glenview.

Both meals will be provided at the same time. The child must be present to receive a meal. Any child 18 and under is eligible at any location, regardless of where or if they go to school.

“They could have a one-year-old, and when they drive up we’ll give them two meals,” Lincoln Parish Schools Superintendent Mike Milstead said.

Though the district had originally considered transitioning to home delivery at some point during the downtime, Milstead said Monday that was no longer a possibility. Car-line pickup will remain the method throughout the closures.

The meal service began Monday with about 1,100 total meals prepared across the eight sites. Milstead said turnout was “not huge” the first day. Some sites reported as few as 15-20 meals handed out, while others reported up to 80.

In addition to meals, schools are also handing out lists of online educational resources to help students continue learning during the downtime. Schools are not requiring students make use of these resources.