MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — From Minneapolis to St. Paul, schools are on the front lines of feeding kids during COVID-19.
Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) recently announced it will continue to serve free meals to youth, ages 18 and younger, through Aug. 21.
Weekly food boxes include seven breakfasts and seven lunches and can be picked up at about 50 locations across the city, Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"We're utilizing the USDA Summer Food Program and that allows us to offer the food to any child 18 and under. So youth do not have to be enrolled in Minneapolis Public Schools. They don't need to show any type of identification," explained Sara Eugene, culinary coordinator for compliance and development with MPS Culinary & Wellness Services (CWS).
According to Eugene, since COVID-19 hit Minnesota they've served about 2.5 million free meals.
"We've certainly seen a great need. So we are serving quite a bit more meals this summer than we have in past summers. We're serving between 30,000 to 50,000 meals a day," Eugene said.
According to Eugene, during a normal summer they serve about 15,000 meals per day.
"So the food within the box is going to be high quality. It's going to be healthy, well-balanced," Eugene said.
During contact-free pick-up on Tuesday, MPS CWS Site Coordinator Lorna Alexander was at Seward Montessori.
"I enjoy that I know that I'm helping the community for their needs... some people have lost their jobs due to COVID," Alexander said.
Youth, parents, or siblings can pick up one box for each child in their family, per week. You can find more information, here.
Meanwhile, St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) hit a milestone last Thursday. Since mid-March, SPPS has served more than five million meals.
"Last year we served 300,000 meals total for the whole summer. This year, to see 450,000 meals going out in a given week, it really has completely changed the landscape of what we're doing," said Stacy Koppen, director of Nutrition Services at SPPS.
SPPS has been offering weekly home meal delivery to St. Paul youth since the pandemic started. They also offer curbside pickup. The program is open to any family in St. Paul, not just SPPS students. All youth, 18 and under, are eligible. Anyone over 18 who has a disability and would normally be in a school program can also participate at no cost. Like MPS, boxes include seven breakfasts and seven lunches.
"So everyone who is receiving meal boxes through St. Paul Public Schools, we have a registration system that is still open today ... Families opt in, they give us their address and they tell us how many children are in their household and we deliver a meal box for every child specifically to that address each week," Koppen explained.
Koppen said from both a fiscal and personnel standpoint, they feel confident they can continue the program until school resumes.
"We're extremely proud of the progress that we've made," Koppen said.
You can register for home delivery with SPPS, here.