Buses were packed Wednesday in the parking lot of Walter Johnson Middle School, but not with the bustling laughter of students on their way to school.
Instead, buses were filled with boxes full of food to help students get through remote learning.
School employees helped load buses up with 366 boxes full of meals at the middle school Wednesday, and another 325 were loaded onto buses at East Burke High School, said Jonelle Bobak Sigmon, marketing and communications specialist for Burke County Public Schools.
It’s the second week since the start of the new year that the school system has delivered the meals, according to a Tuesday press release from the school system. Last week, the school system dropped off the meal boxes at 450 homes. Orders topped 700 this week.
“We opened up this way of distributing meals because we knew some parents would not be able to make it to a school to pick up a meal,” said Child Nutrition Director Daniel Wall in the press release. “We want to have as many options available as possible to help feed our students and to make it easier in these trying times.”
Each box came with a quart of milk and had five breakfasts, five lunches and five super snacks.
Andrea Bradshaw, cafeteria manager at Walter Johnson Middle School, was glad the schools were able to help keep students fed during remote learning.
“This is a great idea,” Bradshaw said. “Hard, hard, hard work, but we wouldn’t trade it for the world because we’re able to feed our kids.”
Renee Leonhardt, a special education teaching assistant and bus driver at North Liberty School, also thought it was a great option for students.
“I think it’s great,” Leonhardt said. “You’ve got some students that live in poverty and they have no transportation.”
For areas that are hard for buses to access, more than a dozen volunteers have stepped in to help deliver the meal boxes, the press release said.
The school system also has worked to get meals to students with meal pick-up options at specific schools and through the day care program, the release said.
“As I have stated many times, all of our child nutrition workers have continued to persevere and provide meals for our students and this time they are taking it one step farther by providing food by delivering to student homes, which shows a dedication beyond compare,” said Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam in the release. “A big thank you to our transportation department and community volunteers for making this possible as well. We know that keeping students fed is important to their educational growth. Great job to child nutrition workers, bus drivers and volunteers.”
Still, getting these meals to students is no match for seeing them in the cafeteria lines each day.
“It’s awful,” Bradshaw said. “We’re used to seeing our kids come through the line and interacting with them, and it’s just not the same. I wish it would hurry up and get back to the norm.”
Meal delivery will be available once a week as long as students are in remote learning, Sigmon said. The school board meets again Jan. 25, where the board is expected to decide whether to extend remote learning or resume in-person instruction.
Anyone interested in ordering meal boxes for the Wednesday delivery should complete the order for form at bit.ly/bcpsmeals no later than Thursday at 5 p.m.