DUS to provide free meals for students during distance learning mode
DOWAGIAC — Dowagiac Union Schools may be starting the school year with distance learning, but the district is still committed to providing meals for its students, staff members said.
The district is collaborating with food service company Sodexo to distribute free meals to students when school starts Tuesday, Sept. 8. The district participates in the National School Lunch Program, which helps schools provide lunches with five nutritional food components and milk.
Meals will be distributed Monday to Friday and will include breakfast and lunch. Parents and guardians are asked to fill out a sign-up form located on the district’s Facebook page and website. The form will be used to determine food drop off locations and times, and must be completed by Thursday, Aug. 27.
“When you’re in school, children need to eat,” said Debra Cahill, the director of food service at Dowagiac Union Schools. “We have to provide that in some way. We’ve tossed around a few different options. We’re still working on logistics. We’ve got a form out right now. That form will give us an idea of how many meals to make and which locations we’ll use to distribute meals.”
The service is for students registered with Dowagiac Union Schools. Once the locations have been determined, meals can be picked up by supplying the student’s name and school ID number. Students and/or parents will only be able to pick up meals at their predetermined locations, which will be determined after the sign-ups are completed.
“The sign-up form is important,” Cahill said. “How many meals will we need to make? Is your child going to be distance learning at home? Will they be at their babysitter’s or a different address? We need to know that to distribute food in the most efficient way possible.”
Summer food program extended to Aug. 28
The district’s summer food program has been extended to Friday, Aug. 28, according to Cahill.
The summer program’s meals, consisting of both breakfast and lunch, are prepared at Dowagiac Middle School and distributed to 12 mobile sites throughout the school district Monday through Friday. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., two vans filled with coolers of meals drive to six sites apiece and serve lunch at their respective sites in 30-minute blocks.
On Fridays, the program serves a “three-day” bag, containing both breakfast and lunch meals for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Breakfast meals consist of mini-boxes of name-brand cereals or breakfast bars, a cheese cube or cheese stick, a graham cracker and a small carton of milk.
For lunch, the program serves a meat and cheese sandwich that changes every day. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, with strawberry or grape jelly, also available. Fruit or a low-sugar fruit cup, a vegetable and milk are also provided.
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