Children Find Comfort in Meals Provided by Now-Shuttered Schools

schools have started up programs where students can come for breakfast and lunch.
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Many U.S. schools have started up programs where students can come for breakfast and lunch.

The coronavirus is continuing to put a hold on every day life for millions in the U.S., and the nation’s schools are no different, but a host of school districts are making sure students who may have gone without food due to closures have meals.

From New York to Maryland, schools have initiated programs where students can come for breakfast and lunch.

Teresa Woods, a teacher for NYC Public Charter Schools, said the school she works at in Harlem is providing bagged breakfast and lunch for students. She also said some teachers have volunteered to donate hot lunches and food they’ve made themselves on Mondays and Wednesdays.

“Considering there are over 15,000 homeless families in New York City, and about 42% of our student population is either homeless or lives in a shelter, many of our students rely on the breakfast, lunch and snack that’s provided by the school,” Woods told “Let’s also consider the students whose parents must still go to work during this crisis and need to ration food.”

Woods said all students, regardless of zip code or household income, are able to participate in the school’s “grab-and go” program. The school has also had to implement remote learning as public schools remain closed in the city until at least April 20.

“Yesterday [Monday] was the first day of our grab-and go program. A large portion of our [kindergarten through fifth grade] students came to receive books, but once they realized meals were also available, many of them were full of gratitude and are making plans to return daily,” Woods said.

It’s not just schools jumping into action to help, but local businesses as well. Maurice Talton, the co-owner of 2 Legends Athletic Club in Harlem, is working to provide meals to children as well.

Since the gym is closed, as are all gyms in the state of New York since Monday, Talton is working with the NYPD's 25th Precinct to provide lunches to students and teachers.

The program is set to officially start next Monday and the food will be provided by a local restaurant, Love Cafe.

“With this whole pandemic, it’s just an opportunity to use my space for whatever it’s needed for,” Talton said. “We wanted to take some pressure off the parents.”