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Area school districts continue meal distributions through pandemic

By Brooklyn Schultz

News Correspondent

When the Hollister R-V School District closed due to COVID-19, otherwise known as the Coronavirus, they never stopped working to help their students any way they could. Hollister, like many other schools in the area, decided to graciously distribute meals to the community.

Parents and grandparents can pick up food from Hollister High School’s meal distribution program. (Special to Branson Globe)

The Hollister School District has been tweaking its free meal distribution schedule to make it the best it can be for the community. As of March 29, Hollister issued a press release on its Facebook page saying, “In order to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for our staff and our families, we are making some changes to our distribution schedule. Starting Sunday, March 29, our new distribution schedule will be Sunday and Wednesday evenings only from 5:30 to 6:30 PM. Students will receive three breakfasts and three lunches on each of these dates. As a reminder, this program is FREE and is available to ALL students in our district.”

Hollister is averaging around 500 to 700 students a night for the program and each student receives six free meals. So, they are serving approximately 3,000 to 4,000 meals per night.

“Many of our students depend on the school to provide quality meals that are essential to their daily nutrition,” said Dr. Sean Woods, assistant superintendent of District Operations. ”We are proud of our district and our dedicated staff who have made it possible for us to continue to provide meals to our families during this difficult time.”

Hollister Schools wants the people in the community to know that quality and daily nutrition is important for any child’s diet. However, any great programs come with complications. Hollister saw this first-hand when they had to stop distributing meals at their OTC campus location.

“While we are still continuing our meal distribution on Sunday and Wednesday evenings, we will no longer serve at the OTC location,” said Kim Connell, communications director at Hollister Schools. “Families who have been picking up at the OTC location are encouraged to go to the distribution site in the U-Haul parking lot at All About Me Hair Salon instead.”

Even with the school year coming to a close, Hollister will continue to serve meals until summer school comes to campus. There will be two sessions of summer school this year due to COVID-19 concerns. Session 1 of summer school will be “virtually” from May 27 to June 23. Session 2 will be seated on campus July 6-July 31. For Session 2, Hollister will provide breakfast and lunch for students.

Volunteers help with Hollister School meal distribution. (Special to Branson Globe)

According to Hollister’s newsletter ‘Tiger E-News,’ New Beginnings Fellowship Church, or NBF Church, gave a generous donation earlier this year so that the balances on all students’ breakfast and lunch accounts were paid.

The Forsyth R-III School District also continues its program.

“This program allows us to provide meals for any child from ages 2 to 18,” said Tim Russell, food service director at Forsyth School District, “It is offered free to those who participate and there is no charge for these meals. Funds are paid based on headcount or participation. We are currently serving meals for pickup at four different locations, three times a week, and providing two breakfast meals and two lunch meals each day. We have had a challenge in obtaining and preparing some foods but we have been able to offer a full meal containing fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, whole grain-rich bread and grain products, as well as lots of different meat/meat alternate products.”

Forsyth distributes meals every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Its meals are available for kids ages 2-18 years. It is operating in four locations, providing two breakfasts and two lunches each day.

“In an effort to continue to support our students and families, our virtual learning efforts, printed packets and meal distribution will continue through May 15, 2020,” said Forsyth Superintendent Dr. Jeff Mingus. Mingus said Forsyth will “continue to communicate new information during this crisis.”

For more information, visit the Forsyth R-III Schools Facebook page.

The Branson Globe reached out to the Branson School District but did not receive a response at the time this article was published. Branson Schools has distributed 114,808 meals through its program, according to its Twitter account. Meals are provided every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Buchanan Elementary School. They can be picked up from 11 a.m. to noon. Information about where meals can be picked up and any updates about Branson’s meal plan can be found on the Branson Public Schools Facebook page or Branson Schools Twitter page.

The Branson Globe says, “Thank you to all the schools in the area for not only continuing the local student’s educational needs, but also the community’s nutritional needs and their overall well being.”

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