Waco Independent School District is expanding its free meal program for families during the COVID-19 pandemic with plans to offer dinner on weeknights starting Monday at selected school sites.
The district is also resuming weekend meal service, giving families extra take-home breakfast and lunch packages at the end of each week. Meals are available for curbside pickup at 15 campuses for any children ages 1 to 18, regardless of school enrollment.
The expanded service is the result of state and federal guidance Waco ISD officials received this week, district Food Services Director Clifford Reece said. Texas Department of Agriculture officials had put the brakes on funding weekend meals after Waco ISD began doing it late last month, but officials said in a phone call this week that the service was allowed, he said.
“It’s been a roller coaster ride,” Reece said. “The most difficult thing is that the landscape is changing every day. We hate to confuse people, but on the other hand, we are forced to adjust.”
The meal sites are closed this Friday in observance of Good Friday but will reopen on a normal schedule next week, Reece said. Families picked up their extra weekend meals Thursday, for a total meal count of about 16,000. For the week, Waco ISD has served about 34,000 meals. If children are not present, parents need to bring documentation of their children such as a report card or birth certificate.
On a typical weekday, the feeding sites are open from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Families pick up a hot or grab-and-go lunch, along with dinner and breakfast for the next day. On Fridays, extra breakfast and lunch is available for the weekend and Monday.
Waco ISD and surrounding school districts started curbside meal service in mid-March to help families whose lives and finances were disrupted by the sudden closure of schools and many workplaces.
Waco ISD had been driving meals to community sites such as churches and parks but scaled back a week ago to only offer meals at campuses. Reece the decision was partly the result of staff concerns about exposure after the death of G.W. Carver Middle School Principal Phillip Perry on March 31.
Schools serving meals are as follows: Bell’s Hill Elementary, Brook Avenue Elementary, Cedar Ridge Elementary, Cesar Chavez Middle School, Crestview Elementary, Dean Highland Elementary, GWAMA, J.H. Hines Elementary, Kendrick Elementary, Mountainview Elementary, North Waco Annex, South Waco Elementary, Tennyson Middle School, University High School and West Avenue Elementary.
More information is available at www.wacoisd.org/domain/7401.
Reece said other adjacent school districts are continuing to offer feeding sites during the week.
Midway ISD spokeswoman Traci Marlin said Midway offers breakfast and lunch service on weekdays and is continuing to offer extra take-home meals for the weekend. Midway paid for the weekend service until this week, when state officials announced that federal money was available to fund it, she said.
The district has served 11,667 meals this week, and the service will be closed for Good Friday, Marlin said.
She said Midway does not qualify for the federally funded dinner program because of its relatively low percentage of students whose family income qualifies them for free or reduced-price lunches during the school year.
For more information on Midway’s plans during the pandemic shutdown, visit midwayisd.org/coronavirus.