October 27, 2021

Schools to provide lunches remotely during pandemic

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Edward Brown picks up a bagged breakfast and lunch Thursday from Beth Hubbard at Homer Central High School. School districts in the county have altered how they feed students amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Life hasn’t been easy recently for Cortland resident Felicia Downing and her family due to the coronavirus. As a substitute teacher in the Cortland Enlarged City School District, she won’t be needed during the pandemic as only full-time teachers will be teaching students remotely, she said.

Her husband will also likely get laid off from his job at BorgWarner.

The business will temporarily close its North America factories due to falling sales and workers’ concerns about the coronavirus, according to Nasdaq’s website.

Feeding her two kids, though, will be one less thing she has to worry about as the Cortland school district, along with other school districts in the county, will provide lunches to students weekdays during the coronavirus pandemic at locations throughout the county.

“This will help us financially to save money we would have spent on breakfast and lunch to pay bills,” Downing said.

Downing said that she and her kids haven’t left their apartment except to go for scooter rides and pick up the meals conveniently located in her apartment complex’s parking lot.

Different districts have different ways of providing meals to children.

In Cortland, food can be picked up from nine locations, including the district’s schools and a few residential complexes.

In the Homer Central School District, food can be picked up from the high school and various churches, along with the Truxton Town Hall.

The McGraw Central School District has provided deliveries to homes of not only families in the school district, but others in the town who don’t have children in the district, said Superintendent of Schools Melinda McCool.

“It’s been unbelievably positive,” McCool said of the community’s reaction to the deliveries.

Bus drivers take school aides and teachers’ assistants to homes where the aides and assistants put the bags together and leave them in boxes or bags that recipients leave at the end of their driveway.

So far, a number of children have left cards with messages thanking the aides.

“It was very heart touching,” McCool said.

For those who are close enough to the district’s elementary and high schools, food can be picked up daily at the high school as well, she said.

At Homer Central High School, Edward Brown picked up a breakfast and lunch for his son, Braydon.

“I’m very proud of how Homer has handled it overall,” Edward Brown said.

Edward Brown said his son Braydon is a part of the district’s Center for Food Action’s Weekend Snack Pack Program, which provides healthy snacks for kids for the weekends.

Edward Brown said he will come every day to help get the food that would be provided by the program.

“It’s been very helpful to make sure our son’s got significant amount of food for the weekends,” Edward Brown said.