By MEGAN WILLIAMS
Daily News-Record 4/7/20
Nine schools in Rockingham County are being used as meal pickup sites twice a week since students were told they would not be returning to the classroom in mid- March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After offering meals every day during the first week of March 16, Rockingham County Public Schools has gone to a twice weekly pick-up where a number of meals can be given out all at once, said Gerald Lehman, director of food service for the school division.
Since then, demand has not declined, and the school division is working through its store of food it had on-hand before COVID-19, and it is working with local partners Sysco, PET Milk, and Standard Produce to continue to provide meals for students.
Meals are given out on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 to 6 p. m. at the following schools: Fulks Run Elementary School, Lacey Spring Elementary School, Montevideo Middle School, Ottobine Elementary School, Plains Elementary School, Pleasant Valley Elementary School, River
Bend Elementary School, South River Elementary School, and Wilbur S. Pence Middle School.
On Mondays, students under the age of 18 can get four meals — two breakfast and two dinner — and on Wednesdays they can get six meals. The idea is to have parents receive a large number number of meals so that they don’t have to make frequent trips, especially in light of Gov. Ralph Northam’s order to stay at home unless necessary.
On Wednesday last week, RCPS served 1,495 students, for a total of 8,970 meals. Although this week is spring break, Lehman said he doesn’t predict numbers to drop significantly now that most people aren’t traveling.
Lehman has a service staff of cafeteria workers, bus drivers, teacher’s aides and administrators helping out at the food distribution sites, Lehman said. Parents drive up and approach a table where the meals are, grab their bag and leave. The idea is to have as little contact as possible.
While there is some variation between schools, Lehman said the division is trying to prepare at least one hot supper dish per pickup. The rest can be refrigerated for later days.
The big question is how long the food program will last, and Lehman said he’s not sure.
“It’s week to week,” he said of supplies. But hopefully, he said, RCPS will be able to work with suppliers to continue providing meals for students while they are not in school.