Schools continue to serve

By JOSH TROY / PRESS REGISTER,

All public schools in Mississippi are closed until at least April 17, but cafeteria workers at both Clarkdale and Coahoma County continue to serve

The Clarksdale Municipal School District has a “Wildcats on Wheels” program where students are delivered food at their homes every Friday. Teachers and administrators get on buses every Friday at 11 a.m. and deliver enough food to last through Monday.

After the coronavirus outbreak caused schools to close, the program started by having students pickup breakfast from 8 to 9 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at one of the summer feeding sites: Clarksdale High School; Heidelberg Elementary School; or WA Higgins Middle School.

“We wanted to reach the students that may not have taken advantage of the three feeding sites that we have,” said CMSD assistant superintendent Dr. Toya Matthews.

Matthews saw recognized the importance of doing everything possible to make sure the students are fed.

“We also know there is a great need for students to have meals because sometimes in school that’s the only meals they have,” she said.

Matthews said any student 18 or younger, regardless of what school they attend, can pickup food at the of the CMSD schools serving breakfast and lunch. The meals consist of fruits, vegetables, milk, carbohydrates, meat and bread.

The Coahoma County School District is also delivering breakfast and lunches the homes of all children ages 18 and younger who live inside district lines. Coahoma County and Coahoma Early College high school students both receive meals. The buses leave CCHS at around 9:30 a.m. and deliver that day’s meals within the next couple of hours.

“We’ve been delivering what we call l a breakfast and lunch combo, a breakfast lunch sack,” said CCSD interim superintendent Dr. Ilean Richards.

The items include fruit, juice, milk and sandwiches.

“Things are going well, but we’re going to take it to another level,” Richards said.

Next week, Richards said she hopes for the district to deliver hot meals instead of just sack lunches.

Matthews said around 300 students per day come to one of the schools at the CMSD for meals. She estimated 500 meals were delivered during the first Friday of the “Wildcats on Wheels” program last week. Total, she said the district provides 2,000 meals per week.

Cassandra Wilson also volunteered her services to help the CMSD deliver meals to homes.

Richards estimated the CCSD delivers food to 300 to 400 homes.

“Because we can serve children ages 0 to 18, we’re actually serving children we do not work with on a day to day basis,” Richards said.

Both Matthews and Richards talked about the precautions being taken to make sure proper precautions are being taken to not spread the coronavirus. School officials in both districts are wearing face masks during the process.

Matthews said the meals in the “Wildcats on Wheels” program were delivered in brown paper bags and the milk was in an insulated bag. Families picking up meals at school go up to the door and do not have to walk in the facility.

Richards said sick employees are not working and preparing the meals and the food is prepared in a sanitary manner.

“Even on our end with the food preparation, we’re practicing social distancing,” Richards said.

“We’re doing everything the guidelines say we should do to be safe with the preparing and the food distribution.”

One individual drives the CCSD bus and someone else hands the meals to the families when they arrive at the home.

Matthews said anyone with any questions may contact the CMSD head of food service, Wilma McIntosh, at the main office, at 662-627-8500. The hours of the main office have been adjusted to 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Updates to how the district will proceed with providing meals and everything else may be found on the CMSD website and Facebook page.

Richards encouraged parents and students to stay safe.

“We will overcome all of this,” she said. “We’re ready for our students to come back to school. We miss them.”

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