Schools step up to the plate to feed kids

Greater Johnstown School District resident Jennifer King, right, takes home a bagged breakfast and lunch for her family during the district's free food distribution Wednesday outside of Johnstown High School. Serving her are Charlotte Hayes and Pam Nellis. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — With school buildings shut down for coronavirus prevention, the Greater Johnstown School District is being proactive when it comes to feeding district students, right outside of Johnstown High School.

Starting Tuesday, the city school system implemented a program in which school children and their families can access free bagged breakfasts and lunches. The place to go is the “loop” in front of the main entrance of JHS daily, from 10:30 a.m. to noon.

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing school districts to do things in a different way.

Lacey Quinn, JHS cook, said the first day of the program Tuesday went well.

“We had about 46 people,” Quinn reported Wednesday.

The program called “Grab-And-Go” is for Johnstown children birth to 18.

JHS Principal Scott Hale was out this week too overseeing the program, which was staffed by district lunch program staff and volunteers. He said it is open for children as long as the city school buildings are closed.

“While students are not attending classes, the [bagged meal] service will be provided,” Hale said.

Quinn said the breakfast includes items such as bread, cereal or granola bars, milk and fruit. The bagged lunch includes items such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, chips, apples and yogurt as an alternative.

Families can drive around the front loop at the high school to reach the meal distribution area. Families are asked to please notify a staff member at the distribution area about any food allergies. On Wednesday, volunteers could even be seen running some of the meals out to parked cars in the loop.

In a letter that recently went out to district families, Interim Superintendent Karen Geelan wrote: “The purpose of this letter is to inform you of resources provided to you by the Greater Johnstown School District during this period of school cancellation …. Please notify the staff if you require a dairy-free, peanut-free or gluten-free meal.”

Geelan stated: “The main point of information in our district is our web site. We are updating it regularly with information as it becomes available. It is our aim to keep families informed as best we can during this health crisis. Stay safe and healthy!”

Many other area school systems are also providing food to students while the coronavirus outbreak continues.


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