Area Schools, Restaurants Giving Free Meals to Students During School Closures

March 16, 2020, 1:57 p.m. ·

Tanya Beteem and Jordan Helgenberger prepare to distribute sack lunches at Hartley Elementary School in Lincoln. (Photo by Allison Mollenkamp, NET News)

Lincoln Public Schools is distributing lunch and breakfast to up to three hundred students today.

Meals are being distributed at six schools around Lincoln. Breakfast includes fruit, a granola bar, and milk. Lunch includes milk, juice, a soy butter and jelly sandwich, yogurt, and applesauce.

LPS has 300 meals on hand Monday and plans on 350 for Tuesday, when students are asked to pick up their Chromebook computers to take home.

Edith Zumwalt is director of nutrition services for LPS. She said the number of meals will be adjusted based on need.

“I would say there’s about 15,000 students on free and reduced meals. The meals that we are offering in the schools during the closure are open to any students. You do not have to be on free and reduced. You can live in any part of the city. You just have to come to the sites where we’re serving meals,” Zumwalt said.

Schools were closed to avoid spreading the virus. Zumwalt said the meal distribution is set up to help avoid spread too.

“We’re hoping to hand them their meals and they leave the building right away. That’s why we are at the door, so that we can get students in and out quickly and not have that intermixing and possible virus spreading,” Zumwalt said.

Some outside groups are also hoping to address students’ needs during the school closure. Granite City Food and Brewery in Lincoln is providing free sack lunches to students.

Tess Mayer is event coordinator for Granite City Food and Brewery in Lincoln. She said the restaurant hasn’t placed a limit on the number of meals they’ll distribute.

“As many as we need. We have all the ingredients to make them, we have lots. So basically we’re just going to respond to the public need,” Mayer said.

Granite City can also arrange delivery of a meal if necessary.

Ralston and Bellevue Public Schools are also offering free meals, as well as Bethany Coffee Shop. The Food Bank for the Heartland runs several mobile food banks around the state.