With schools closed, districts and volunteers work together to feed kids
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Fiona Jackson has been working less since Gov. Ralph Northam shuttered K-12 schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s harder because, I guess, normally when the kids are in school, I’m working,” said Jackson, a mother of two. “And even in the evening, I could still work because my niece would be here.”
Jackson works as a Doordash driver in Charlottesville, and she said the response to the COVID-19 virus has also hurt her work, as customers grow more cautious about coming into contact with the people bringing them food.
She was one of the residents who took advantage of a coordinated effort between the local nonprofit PB&J Fund, area Parent-Teacher Organizations and other neighborhood groups to fill the void on Monday for the families who rely on Charlottesville City School’s nutrition program for their well-being.
Beginning Tuesday, Charlottesville City Schools will provide combined breakfast and lunch bags to children up to the age of 18.
Jackson said lunch today was helpful, and took away at least one of her immediate worries. Now, she is wondering how to keep her children busy and happy.
“I don’t want them to go outside and get with other kids,” Jackson said. “It’s kind of hard, but at the same time, I want them to have that interaction with other kids. Two weeks is a long time to not interact with other kids.”
The distribution effort, which took place at different community centers around the city, would have been impossible without the help of volunteers.
Mary Coleman, executive director of City of Promise, helped lead the effort at the Westhaven site. She said that she and the other volunteers handed out the food to the children individually, working to make sure they maintained distance from each other.
To spread awareness about the free meals, Coleman said she’s texted families and posted heavily on social media.
Coleman said City of Promise, a nonprofit that provides support to children in the Westhaven, Starr Hill and 10th & Page neighborhoods, aims to be available to families to whatever they might need.
“Even if our staff is not in the building, we’re always available by texts and phone,” Coleman said. “If someone has a need, we’re going to try to partner with other agencies to make sure they get what they need.”
Also on Monday, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia led a pizza distribution in the Southwood community. Pronto! on the Corner is among a number of area restaurants offering free meals to school-aged children.
The county schools didn’t release much details on food delivery over the weekend. But on Sunday afternoon, Albemarle County School Board member Graham Paige posted on Facebook that the county schools will open kitchens at select locations in the county and provide “grab and go lunches for children getting free or reduced-price lunch.”
“Details will be announced when they are finalized on Monday, March 16,” Paige wrote.
Here is the food distribution information for City school families:
Beginning Tuesday, Charlottesville City Schools will provide combined breakfast and lunch bags to children up to the age of 18. From 10 a.m. to noon, school officials will be at the following locations:
Friendship Court, 418 Garrett St.
Greenstone, 746 Prospect Ave.
Hearthwood Apartments, 2111 Michie Drive
Jackson-Via Elementary, parking lot/bus loop, 508 Harris Road
Meade Park, parking lot, 300 Meade Ave.
South First Street, South First Street and Hartmans Mill Road
Venable Elementary, parking lot, 406 14th St. NW
Westhaven, 803 Hardy Drive
Buford Middle School, parking lot/bus loop, 1000 Cherry Ave.
Charlottesville High School Main Entrance, 1400 Melbourne Road
Christ Community Church, 329 Riverside Ave.
From 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, Albemarle County Public Schools also will provide free meals for students and siblings aged 18 and under at the following locations:
Woodbrook Elementary School, walkway in front of school, 100 Woodbrook Drive, Charlottesville, VA 22901
Sutherland Middle School, front-right walkway entrance, 2801 Powell Creek Drive, Charlottesville, VA 22911
Walton Middle School, front entrance walkway, 4217 Red Hill Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903
Albemarle High School, back covered patio across from stadium, 2775 Hydraulic Road, Charlottesville, VA 22901
Monticello High School, front walkway near auditorium, 1400 Independence Way, Charlottesville, VA 22902
Western Albemarle High School, Front walkway near dining area, 5941 Rockfish Gap Turnpike, Crozet, VA 22932