The first week of Columbia Public Schools’ Grab-and-Go meal delivery is in the books.
The district began delivering meals for students March 30, using routes intending to reach families of students in need of meals while schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know that many of our families have transportation issues,” Laina Fullum, Columbia Public Schools Director of Nutrition Services, said. “I think it was just automatic in our minds that we were going to do some kind of delivery.”
The actual delivery route itself was a collaboration between Student Transport of America and the school district, choosing which neighborhoods featured the most in-need students based on the number of kids who got picked up and dropped off at certain bus stops on any given day.
Fullum also got in touch with the regional kitchens for the school district, since they were used to producing large amounts of meals every week for students.
“We have some great partners,” Fullum said. “One of the things we’ve been thrilled with being able to have is donations flowing in from some of our organizations and companies.”
While she says this first week of meal delivery has been a success, Fullum believes there is always room for improvement.
“Now we do know that we have some stops that are not working out great, meaning they don’t have any kids at these stops,” said Fullum. “So what we plan to do is regroup and take a look at those stops.”
Fullum believes the new routes should be ready by April 13th.
The school district has been working with the Food Bank in order to improve the food drop quality. This includes making sure students have something extra in their packages.
“So what we do with part of our drop system is not only do we provide the USDA breakfast and lunch,” Fullum said. “We put a few extra items in there, that were part of our donations, so that it bulks it up and they have something extra to fall back on in their cupboards.”
Fullum expects the meal delivery service to continue through at least April 24, when Superintendent Peter Stiepleman currently plans on reopening schools. She said if the schools stay closed beyond that date, the meals will keep coming.
“As long as our kiddos are out, I foresee that we’ll be providing this service.”