In the wake of the Visalia Unified School District (VUSD) shuttering its classrooms in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, the district will be providing free meals to all children ages 1 to 18.
The program will run through at least April 3, providing breakfast and lunch at no cost to children living within the VUSD. Food will be distributed at several VUSD campuses as well as by bus to more remote schools. Lunch and breakfast for the next day will be available for pick up at the same time to minimize exposure.
The intent of the emergency program is to ensure children who rely on school-provided meals do not go hungry while VUSD schools remain closed through April 13 to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“It’s kind of like a safety net,” said VUSD Superintendent Dr. Tamara Ravalin. “It’s not a decision we made lightly.”
VUSD staff worked over the weekend to cement the plan for feeding students, Ravalin said.
“About 20 of us came in Saturday to get a meal plan worked out,” she said.
Children and teens will be able to pick up meals with or without their parents present; however, parents without their children will not be allowed to participate. To reach a maximum number of students, the district will distribute meals from some campuses, and in other areas from stops along its normal bus routes.
“We’re going to use bus routes and have folks on our buses and deliver meals at the bus stops,” Ravalin said. “Some of our kids can’t get out to the sites. We’ll be a bit like Meals on Wheels.”
Campus pickups will be available from 11:30am to 12:30pm on weekdays at Annie Mitchell Elementary, Cottonwood Creek Elementary, Divisadero Middle, Elbow Creek Elementary, Four Creeks Elementary, the Global Learning Charter, Goshen Elementary, Houston Elementary, Ivanhoe Elementary, Linwood Elementary, Manuel F. Hernandez Elementary, Mineral King Elementary, Valley Oak Middle, Washington Elementary and Willow Glen Elementary schools.
Meals will be available at all regular bus stops for Annie Mitchell Elementary, Elbow Creek Elementary, Goshen Elementary, Ivanhoe Elementary and Linwood Elementary four hours after the regular morning pick-up time. Additionally, meals will be distributed at 11:30am at the bus stops at West Cameron Avenue and South Oak View Street, and at East Douglas Avenue and North Gowdy Street.
Meals must be eaten away from the pickup and drop-off locations. Children do not have to be enrolled in a VUSD school to participate.
The district will also distribute educational materials to students who are missing class.
“We’ll also deliver lessons and enrichment materials for students,” Ravalin said. “They’re going to get bored.”
The district will also have instructional materials available via its website–vusd.org.
“I’m sure we’ll have a lot online, but not all of our students will have that option,” Ravelin said.
For more information, call the VUSD Nutritional Services Department at (559) 730-7871.