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When Tuesday comes, DeKalb schools have a plan to feed their kids during March closure

DeKALB – When Tuesday comes and DeKalb school district buildings halt operations for two weeks on Gov. JB Pritzker’s COVID-19 orders, DeKalb administrators plan to keep feeding their kids.

District 428 Superintendent Jamie Craven said Saturday morning he and other district administrators and community members met to discuss the plan of action for feeding the district’s most vulnerable.

“This has been truly all-hands-on-deck,” Craven said. “Teachers, leaders who have stepped up, members of the administration, principals, honestly too many to start pointing out. It’s truly been a great effort on everyone’s behalf and we’ll be able to launch on Tuesday.”

Amid growing concerns over the spread of coronavirus in Illinois (18 more cases were announced Saturday), Pritzker ordered all private and public schools in the state to close for the remainder of the month. Schools in DeKalb County will begin e-learning Monday, and buildings will close to the public and everyone else Tuesday.

Genoa-Kingston District 424 will also provide meals to families in need. Sycamore District 427 will also provide free meals to students. If your Sycamore student is in need of meals, parents and guardians are to fill out a breakfast and lunch pick-up form which can be found at www.syc427.org/meals.

Craven said beginning Tuesday, the district will set up around nine satellite pick-up spots for families, with multiple locations in DeKalb, Cortland and Malta. Each day until schools reopen, families will be able to come by the sites and pick up two free meals which will be prepared and packaged for them.

“It’s all going to be mostly non-perishable items,” Craven said. “We’re fortunate, too, that we’ll be able to have our district staff and cooks come in next week and also work with Aramark, our food service provider. We’ll work out the details over the weekend and Monday have a more comprehensive plan ready for parents.”

The order has had ripple effects on the community’s most vulnerable, though, namely those in District 428 and beyond who rely on free and reduced meals to get them through the day. The closures come after recent reports show homelessness is on the rise in DeKalb County public schools.

A majority of students in DeKalb are eligible to receive free and reduced lunch, meaning they are provided two meals (breakfast and lunch) while school is in session.

In DeKalb, there are currently 193 students who are homeless. In Sycamore, there are 34. Food shortages across more rural areas in the county such as Genoa have also caught the attention of organizations such as the DeKalb County Community Gardens, which announced Thursday its also ramping up efforts to ensure families are fed during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Parents will receive more specific instructions from district officials prior to Tuesday, so they know locations and pick-up times for the meals. The Barb Food Mart will also play a role, though details aren’t yet known.

Lack of income or resources to food also means many likely have lack of transportation, too. Craven said they haven’t yet decided how to best aid in transportation efforts, but that’s one of the rationale for having as many pick-up sites as possible.

In Pritzker’s school announcement Friday, he also said public schools will receive additional funding to help aid them in their food provision efforts.

Craven said he’s not yet heard any confirmation of that locally.

“We heard that, too,” Craven said. “But we don’t know what those details are yet, so when we receive more information we’ll go from there.”

With the ever-changing cycle of news and decisions over the past few days, Craven said he’s grateful for all the community support.

“I very much appreciate all of their generous offers,” Craven said. “We’re trying to roll them into a whole plan and incorporate their assistance as well.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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