CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Several county school systems in West Virginia are transitioning this week to what’s being described as more efficient models to feed students and their families with the continuing school shutdown connected to the coronavirus.
According to information released by the office of state School Superintendent Clayton Burch, beginning Monday, “most counties will move to distributing multi-day meal boxes that will be replenished each week. These boxes will provide breakfast and lunch for five days (the extent of the regular school week) for children.”
Burch said if families have unmet food needs that can get information about alternate community sites and food banks by contacting the United Way at 211.
“We have been able to identify vendors that will work within the federal reimbursement guidelines to take some of the burden off of county meal distribution systems,” Burch said. “When done effectively, counties can utilize their workforce to support this effort which will only require employees to work a limited number of days during distribution periods.”
Burch said feeding children remains a top priority.
Monongalia County has already made the transition. The school board has entered a partnership with the restaurant Bartini Prime.
Monongalia County School Board President Ron Lytle said co-owner Justin Byers told officials he would be willing to manage the program and make sure students continue to get nutritious meals.
“I thought, ‘Does he know what he’s getting into?'” Lytle said. “He grabbed it by the horns. he had the volunteers out and he had the refrigerated trucks.”
The school system is approved by the USDA to give the food to Bartini Prime for them to prepare. Lytle said families have to register at feedmonkids.com in order to make sure there’s enough food for each family. Lytle said registering is the key.
“If somebody wants that service they need to get on that site. It’s heartbreaking to turn someone away when all they want is food,” Lytle said.
The meals in Monongalia County are now being delivered each Thursday. Lytle said the deliveries will include 10 meals (five breakfast meals and five lunches) for each child that are ready for the oven or microwave.
WAJR’s Mike Nolting contributed to this story.