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North Texas Schools Find Ways To Serve Meals Despite Being Closed Due To Coronavirus

Schools have closed across North Texas, but that doesn’t mean kids who depend on school meals are going hungry. Some closed campuses are still providing meals, delivering them to students or having families pick them up.

More than 63% of Cedar Hill ISD students qualify for free or reduced cost lunches. That percentage is even higher at High Pointe Elementary School — almost 80%.

During Tuesday's lunch at High Pointe, kitchen staff greeted families driving up for hamburgers and milk, white or chocolate.

A mother, Marjahen Moore, said she was grateful for the meals.

“It’s a really big deal,” she said. “It alleviates a lot of  stress on me having to get up, cook breakfast, lunch. ... I’m able to relax more with the kids. Takes a load off.”

Moore is like many parents who are feeling that load now that her kids are home instead of in school. It’s like spring break didn’t end (it was supposed to last week).   

“Normally in this situation, they have programs and stuff they can go to — the rec will be open for them, just spring break functions they can go to," she said. "As opposed to them being home all day, nothing to do. That’s why I chose to stay home for a week.”

Some parents may not have that option to take time off. Others have been forced to with the close of restaurants and bars.

That’s why Beverly Walker is glad to have her job working in High Pointe Elementary’s kitchen.

And so this came, you know, where we can come this week and get some hours. That’s a blessing, and so we just go from here,” Walker said.  

Miesha Davis came with her two kids, happy to find High Pointe, at least, still had food.

“Especially with the shortage of food that’s in the grocery stores, it’s very important because you’re not able to get all the essential things you need to make meals, because everyone has already taken it,” Davis said. 

At Fort Worth's Eastern Hills High School, Dawn Washington brought her twin 9-year-olds, Azarion and Amariah, to pick up meals from a school district food truck. The menu was the same as at High Pointe.

“It’s a burger, apple sauce, and some carrots and some dipping sauce,” Azarion and Amariah said.  

For now, these and other districts will keep serving up the meals even as the school doors stay closed. In Fort Worth, 77% of kids qualify for free or reduced price lunch. [Update: By March 23, Fort Worth will have 17 "meals-to-go" sitesset up to feed families.]

And to feed the mind, some districts plan to venture into online learning to teach kids stuck at home. That’s not good enough for Miesha Davis, the Cedar Hill parent. She knows caution has closed these campuses. She just doesn’t like it.  

“I’m really shocked about that because like, what about the kids? You know, what happened to ‘no child left behind?” Davis said. “Even if it’s online, but they still need that education, from going to school, the social, emotional [learning], you know, the interaction with other children.”

School officials say that will happen again. They just don’t know when.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.