School’s out, but students can still get free meals in Delaware

Gavin Holloman, 7, and Taylor Blake choose lunch and breakfast meals at the Bancroft School amid school shutdowns. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Gavin Holloman, 7, and Taylor Blake choose lunch and breakfast meals at the Bancroft School amid school shutdowns. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Public schools in Delaware are closed until at least March 30, but students who get a free breakfast and take-home snacks in their classroom are still being fed.

That’s because the National School Lunch Program gave the Delaware Department of Education a waiver to continue the initiative that provides free meals to students in schools with high percentages of low-income students.

Jennifer Jones brought her granddaughter Samarah to the Bancroft School in Wilmington, which provided lunches for Tuesday and a breakfast package for Wednesday morning.

The meals will be provided weekdays until further notice. Students don’t have to attend the school where they go to get the meal.

Wilmington schools are offering free lunch and breakfast to students in need. About 300 meals were prepared at the Bancroft School. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

“It’s a good thing, because you don’t know how long this is going to last,’’ Jones said.
“I went out and did the whole shopping thing and started preparing a week ahead. But by her being home, they tend to eat a lot more.”

Jones checked out Samarah’s goodies.

“She has turkey and ham. And for breakfast she has a granola bar, juice and milk,’’ Jones said.

Jennifer Jones and her granddaughter, Samarah, 5, picked up free student meals in Wilmington on Tuesday. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Peering further into the bag Jones realized it has “carrots too. She loves carrots.”

Medical secretary Heather Grimm brought her two sons and a friend’s daughter to Bancroft.

“It helps with balancing the costs out,’’ Grimm said. “Because I’m working I do not get food stamps and all that kind of stuff. So now to have to provide food, snacks, drinks, everything all day is really hard for me. It looks like it’s going to be here for a little while, thank God.”

Bancroft’s meals were handed out by nutrition manager Mary Higginbotham and specialist Liza Kritikos.

“We’re gonna have hot meals, cold meals, a little bit of everything,’’ Kritikos said, noting that there’s “a vegetable in each packet.”

The school was prepared to give out 200 meals Tuesday.

“We’re going to see how each day goes,’’ Kritikos said, adding that she expected word to spread “by word of mouth.”

The city of Wilmington also is providing “grab-and-go” meals at several community centers until further notice.

Wayne Jefferson, deputy parks and recreation director, was waiting for the meals to arrive Tuesday around lunchtime at Williams “Hicks” Anderson Community Center in West Center City.

“I thought it was important to have another avenue for children to get a feeding,’’ Jefferson said. “When schools were shut down, we wanted to have a place for them to come and get food.”

Timothy Bateman brought his children to the center.

“I think what they are doing is good,’’ Bateman said. “It’s helping provide relief to some of the families.”

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