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WY School Districts Offer Healthy Meals for Kids at Home

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School food service staff members in Wyoming are shifting gears as classrooms close, and finding creative ways to make sure children don't go hungry during the COVID-19 crisis. (Wyoming Department of Education)
School food service staff members in Wyoming are shifting gears as classrooms close, and finding creative ways to make sure children don't go hungry during the COVID-19 crisis. (Wyoming Department of Education)
 By Eric Galatas - Producer, Contact
March 23, 2020

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- As Wyoming joins the national effort to protect public health in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis by closing classrooms, school districts are finding creative ways to make sure children who rely on school meals can continue to get healthy, nutritious food.

Tamra Jackson, nutrition programs supervisor for the Wyoming Department of Education, says around 36% of the state's students rely on free or reduced-price meals, and cafeteria workers are stepping up efforts during the pandemic.

"In Wyoming, we have the best group of dedicated, passionate people that are taking care of their kid," she states. "Maybe give them a smile that they're not getting anywhere else during that day."

Jackson says parents should contact their local school district to find out best times to pick up meals or to sign up for delivery.

The Wyoming Department of Education also is posting updates on the COVID-19 situation online at edu.wyoming.gov.

Schools had to apply for waivers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture , which funds the National School Lunch Program, to allow them to switch to their summer meal operations.

Many Wyoming families that struggle to make ends meet during regular times are facing layoffs, and with hungry children now at home during lunchtime, Jackson says school meals provide critical assistance for families.

Jackson says many Wyoming residents already have reached out to her office with offers to help out.

"What I've been telling them is to reach out to their local schools or school district and ask them what they can do, to volunteer or to donate," she relates.

Jackson points to one district's food service director, who is cooking and packaging meals all by herself, getting help from the school's superintendent and principal to distribute food to families.

Food service staff in another district wrote, "We miss you. Do your homework" on each of the bags prepared for students.

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