Local schools stepped up in March to start offering free meals for youth under the age of 18 throughout what would have been the rest of the school year, as schools were closed due to the coronavirus, but a need still had to be met. Tyrone Area School District served thousands of meals, and now that summer is here, is starting its usual summer meal program.
"Every summer, Tyrone offers a Summer Feeding Program, and this year we are serving almost double what we have served in previous years," said Amanda Grove, food services director at Tyrone Area School District.
When schools closed in March, a team of 12 people worked together to ensemble all of the components for the free meals and packing. Bulk meal distribution started on March 19 and more than 76,000 meals were distributed from then through June.
As of June 4 - the scheduled last day for the school year - the district has been working with a team of four people and the summer program will run until August 7.
"For some of these children, we may be the only nutritious meal they get each day and I feel so blessed to be able to continue meal service for the children in the area!" Grove commented.
Preparing and packaging meals, keeping them at a safe temperature, and distributing them to families took "some getting used to in the beginning," said Grove. "But now we're pros!" she said. It wasn't that the process took long, overall, but it was a definite difference than serving students the traditional way in school.
Free meal distribution for summer is held on Mondays and Thursdays at Warriors Mark United Methodist Church from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and at the Tyrone Area High School from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Anyone age 18 and under is eligible.
On Mondays, participants will receive breakfast and lunch food for that day through Wednesday, and on Thursday will receive meals for the remaining four days of the week. Lunches will include grain, protein, fresh vegetables, fruit and milk. Breakfasts may include cereals, assorted breakfast items, and fruit or juice, and milk.
Anyone who plans to participate is asked to complete the free meals survey via the link available at https://www.tyrone.k12.pa.us/Page/1873.