With nearly 44,000 public school students in Orleans Parish, parents and community leaders worry about how students will eat since campuses were closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
However, March 16 marked the first day for Community Feeding Locations, which transformed several public schools into an area of giving and compassion.
At Paul Habans Charter School, hot breakfast and lunch were served to hungry students while families stocked up on much needed supplies and educational material for their children.
“If you want to see humanity in this moment, you look around this space and you see it,” Orleans Parish School Board President Ethan Ashley said.
The faculty had little time to prepare the feeding center, but they knew they had to get the job done.
“At 1 o’clock Friday, when we found out we were shut, we jumped into action,” Paul Habans principal Elisabeth LaMotte-Mitchell said. “Right now, this is all from us. This is everything we had in our building.”
Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. was in awe of the faculty’s determination to help their students.
“They understand what the call is,” he said. “They respond to the call, all hands on deck.”
While a lot of preparation was made to make sure the first day of distribution ran smoothly, a lot more work is needed for weeks to come.
Schools participating in the program will be serving breakfast, lunch and snacks until April 13, when schools are supposed to re-open.
Students younger than 18 are allowed to receive meals and both picky eaters and those with dietary restrictions will be accommodated.
“There is a place for you in terms of getting proper nutrition,” Ashley said. “There’s something for everyone as the (New Orleans Recreational Department) slogan goes.”
Students are not required to show up in person to receive the meals. A parent or guardian can head to a location and let the staff know how many students they are feeding.
“What ever the feels is best is what we will tell them to do,” Lewis said.
As New Orleans health officials battle the spread of COVID-19, public school officials say they are doing their part in helping the community.
“Just a reminder we are all in this together and we will get through this together,” Lewis said. For a statewide list of schools operating meal services, click here