Though the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the closure of schools statewide, area students can receive free breakfast and lunch starting Monday.

Breakfast and lunch will be offered freely to any child age 18 and younger as well as those with special needs age 21 and younger, said Quintin Shepherd, Victoria school district superintendent, during a press conference Friday.

“It is our belief that young or old no one should face food insecurity,” he said.

Shepherd announced earlier in the week that face-to-face instruction would be suspended and Victoria students will continue their education from home beginning March 30. As the largest school district in the Crossroads, he said he felt it was the district’s responsibility to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students, not just VISD students.

The food distribution will begin Monday, Shepherd said. Breakfast will be offered from 7:30-9:30 a.m. and lunch will be served from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and until 1 p.m. at Stroman Middle School.

The meals will be offered at Aloe, Crain, Hopkins, Rowland and Shields elementary schools and Stroman Middle School. The distribution will be organized in a drive-thru style. There will be signs helping guide drivers to the right spot as well as security helping with traffic control, Shepherd said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that the district distribute meals to students, Shepherd said, so students must be in the car with their parents. He said that was not a decision made by the school district. A student does not need to attend school at the distribution location to get meals.

“We’re hoping that the USDA relaxes these rules to make it easier for all of us to provide meals in the future, but for right now, please plan on bringing your children when you pick up your meals,” he said.

For families that do not have their own vehicle or method of transportation, Shepherd said parents should call the parent liaison at their home campus beginning Monday. He said distribution will be coordinated for those families on a case-by-case basis.

Additionally, Shepherd said the district is working on plans to provide multiple days worth of food at each pick up, because staff recognizes it will likely be an inconvenience for parents to come twice a day for meals.

Ideally, staff members hope to have distribution set up so parents can pick up breakfast and lunch for Monday and Tuesday all on Monday morning; pick up breakfast and lunch for Wednesday and Thursday all on Wednesday morning; and pick up breakfast and lunch for Friday, Saturday and Sunday all on Friday morning.

That plan is still a work in progress, Shepherd said, and additional information will be announced later.

Also, he said staff members are looking into providing dinner options for families as well.

“We’re working with the food bank in the hopes we can deliver more meals on Friday when we send food home with anyone who shows up,” he said.

Morgan Theophil covers local government for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6511, or on Twitter

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