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UPDATE: DeKalb school district daily free meals for students back on starting Tuesday

DeKALB – After DeKalb D-428 Superintendent Jamie Craven announced Monday the district will halt daily free meal pickup service indefinitely “due to unrest in the community,” the meal service was back on as of Monday afternoon and will resume Tuesday.

“After discussions with DeKalb City Officials, DeKalb 428 will resume meal distributions tomorrow, June 2,” Craven said in a statement to district families Monday afternoon. “Those who have ordered 5 day meal distribution boxes that were to be picked up today will be contacted with information on when they will be available. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we all work through this together.”

The meal service was being provided free to families during the COVID-19 school closures to ensure students remained fed.

“Due to the unrest in the community, DeKalb 428 School District will suspend the Grab and Go meals (including the 5 day food box pick) until further notice,” Craven’s earlier statement read. 

Reached by the Daily Chronicle Monday morning, Craven urged that a lack of available information contributed to the initial decision to suspend the meal distribution.

“We certainly apologize and hate that we’ve had to temporarily suspend this but again we want to make sure that everyone is safe including our volunteers who go to our multiple sites,” Craven said. “Part of this decision I want to be honest is the fact that as we speak now at 9:30, I don’t how widespread everything was last night. I certainly won’t rely on social media and I have not had the chance to speak with any city officials and I’m sure they are extremely busy, but you do hear things across social media and I don’t know what the extent was, and this is just out of taking precautionary moves.”

The soon-outgoing superintendent, claimed that the district had been providing meals of “hovering around 600 meals a day,” after the early days of the meal distribution program saw around 1,000 delivered a day as the coronavirus pandemic accelerated.

Craven said he intends to consult namely with DeKalb Interim Police Chief John Petragallo, who leaves his position after his final day Tuesday, as well as City Manager Bill Nicklas.

He said he knew he had to consider altering the meal distribution plan after receiving an alert from the city last night during the looting alongside Hillcrest Dr.

“At that point, it was enough to say we need to think about whether we’re going to have our meal distribution tomorrow (Monday), ” Craven said. “We need to find out what the extent of this was, where we’re at tomorrow and we can make a decision tomorrow after we talk to city officials.”

Editor’s note: this story has been updated with new information once the district decided to reinstate meal service Tuesday, according to a 2:30 p.m. email from Craven.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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