LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Several school systems are closing feeding sites following Gov. John Bel Edwards’ stay-at-home directive issued Sunday.
Edwards issued the order to stop the spread of COVID-19. The stay-at-home order begins at 5 p.m. today.
The Calcasieu Parish School Board, the Allen Parish School Board, Beauregard Parish schools and Lake Charles Charter schools all say they will be discontinuing the feeding sites for kids.
We reached out to CPSB regarding its decision to stop meals, they say one factor in their decision - some food service employees fall into the “high risk” category when it comes to contracting the virus.
While the Louisiana Department of Education is advocating for districts to continue serving meals, state leaders say they understand that a quote "one-size-fits-all solution" won't work for every district.
Calcasieu Parish officials said the decision to suspend the program was not one easily made. CPSB says it did explore options including pre-packaged meals, but vendors said there was a backlog on shipping orders out. They also explored options such as using school buses for deliveries but risked unregulated food temperatures by the time the food would arrive to its destination.
“My prayer is that after we get ahead of the curve, that we would be able to open this back up even if school is delayed," said volunteer Jerry Parmentier.
Jeff Davis provided bagged meals for each student on Mar. 24 to last them till Friday. Superintendent Kirk Credeur said Mar. 24 was the only time to pick it up at the following schools: Elton High School, Jennings High School, Lake Arthur Elementary, Welsch Elementary, Union Baptist Church in Jennings and Fenton Elementary.
As KPLC receives more information on whether other parish’s feeding sites will stay open, we will update them here.
“This decision is not based on whether feeding children is a priority, as we can all agree that it is of the utmost importance,” the Calcasieu School Board said in a news release. “However, we must also consider the safety of all stakeholders involved.”
Calcasieu: Feeding program ended.
Lake Charles Charter schools: Feeding program ended.
Allen: Feeding program ends after Friday, March 27.
Jeff Davis: Feeding program on Tuesday, March 24 ONLY. Each student will receive enough bagged meals to last them till Friday.
Vernon: Feeding program ends March 26.
Beauregard: Feeding program ended.
Full statement from the Calcasieu School Board:
"With yesterday’s announcement from Governor John Bel Edwards issuing a ‘stay home’ order beginning this afternoon, we have made the very difficult decision to discontinue our feeding program after today, March 23, until further notice.
"This decision is not based on whether feeding children is a priority, as we can all agree that it is of the utmost importance. However, we must also consider the safety of all stakeholders involved.
"The dedication of our School Nutrition Program staff and dozens of volunteers has provided thousands of meals to children over the last several days. We are incredibly proud of that and grateful that even during this time, our children remain first in our hearts and minds.
"As we mentioned before, this decision was not taken lightly and was made only after lengthy discussions with the Governor’s Office, the Louisiana Department of Education and other state superintendents. If and when the time comes that we are able to reopen feeding sites, we will provide additional information to the public.
“We thank you for your patience and understanding during this difficult time, and we urge everyone to heed the warnings of our state and national leaders today and in the coming weeks.”