COVID-19 changes lunchroom plans as schools reopen

Back to school

MCALLEN, Texas (KVEO) — A new school semester starts this Monday. Students across the Rio Grande Valley will be starting off virtually for the first four weeks.

Once students step back onto campus, lunchtime will look a lot different.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, food insecurity continues to plague students outside of the classroom.

“Out of the 22,000 kids over 9,000 participated in our meal program,” said Alexandra Molina, McAllen Independent School District (ISD) Food Services Director.

For the first four weeks, districts can have classes online and boards can apply for additional time for remote learning. After eight weeks, the Texas Education Agency wants kids back in the classroom. McAllen ISD will continue their meal delivery program when school starts Monday.

“It includes milk, it includes fresh fruit, juice, hot vegetables,” she said. “We will be offering this fall 57 bus stops along with our 10 curbside locations and those bus stops are using our existing McAllen ISD bus routes.”

When more students crowd the hallways again, lunchtime will be a lot different.

“We will come to you the student in the classroom to limit exposure of you with other classrooms. We feel that is the safest model for our students,” said Molina.

We reached out to other school districts who tell us they are still figuring out guidelines for lunchtime. Molina tells me the goal is to continue to fuel students’ minds during uncertain times.

“It’s their lunch lady, one of the big connections that students have is the lunch lady delivering breakfast is the first person to tell them good morning and while there [is] so much uncertainty and so much fear. Seeing the ladies and gentlemen day in and day out really brought a sense of ease to our students,” she said.

The district adds after the first four weeks of online learning they’ll continue with the food delivery option for parents who opt to keep their children home.

The meal program has an app for parents to know when the bus will arrive. You can go to the app store on both Android and Apple devices and download the “Where’s my bus” app. Then enter the McAllen school code.

The meal program is for every McAllen ISD student whether you are part of the bus program or not.

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