Hundreds Fed First Day of Free Meals in Natomas

Families line up at American Lakes Elementary School on March 16 to pick up hot food to go, while cars lined up in the bus lane behind them to do the same.

BY BRANDY TUZON BOYD
THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

Hundreds of children were served free meals Monday by the Natomas Unified School District.

In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, several local school districts, including Natomas Unified, have closed. During this closure, the district will provide free meals to all children 18 and under at 15 campuses.

When the program launched on March 16, 528 breakfast and 729 lunches were distributed, according to district spokesperson Deidra Powell.

Families started arriving shortly after 11 a.m. to American Lakes Elementary School. There they picked up hot food to go, breakfast for the following day, books and puzzles donated by Barnes & Noble in Natomas, toothbrushes donated by Liberty Dental and food care packages donated by the Sacramento Kings.

Powell said the free meal program is meant for all those who have children and who need food, not just those who live within the school district’s boundaries. Children must be present to pick up meals and the meals cannot be consumed on site.

“We will be out here each day Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through April 3 because we want to make sure that the children in our community are fed, they have meals and that they are taken care of at this extreme time that we’re all going through in our world,” she said.

Powell added that families are asked to remain in their vehicles to help limit the number of people gathered together during the pickup times.

“We recognize that everyone does not have access to a vehicle, so we will have signs posted as reminders to practice and teach social distance by staying 6 feet apart from others,” she added. Social distancing is one of the prevention measures recommended by health officials to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Starting today, March 17, neighboring Twin Rivers Unified School District will also serve meals between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, in the parking lot or bus lane at 10 participating schools. Meals will be available at Smythe Academy of the Arts K-6, located 2781 Northgate Boulevard, in Natomas.

The decision to close all 13 districts under the Sacramento County Office of Education was made with the support of Sacramento County Public Health. At this time, it is anticipated that most schools will reopen on April 6.

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