Education Matters: Ensuring students get meals during a pandemic

Education

FRESNO, California (KSEE) – When valley schools were closed due to the coronavirus outbreak, one of the educators’ first moves was to make sure meals would continue to be provided to kids who needed them.

But there were some kids who were in danger of falling through the cracks.

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Parkway Drive in Fresno is Richard Burrell’s beat – and the homeless kids living in the motels are his heart.

For the past 7 years, Burrell’s organization, ‘Live Again Fresno’, has served these kids with an afterschool and a summer mobile food service.

“For children and families who are living on Motel Drive, it may be three-quarters of a mile to their school,” said Burrell. “That’s a long three-quarters of a mile when you have the amount of sex trafficking and other things going on in these neighborhoods.”

During school, students depend on the free breakfast and lunches served at their school, Adams Elementary in the Fresno Unified School District. When schools shut down due the coronavirus pandemic, Burrell and his small staff knew someone had to get meals to these families.

“They do not have a vehicle in most cases, there really is no store like a grocery store within walking distance.”

Working with Fresno Unified – who cut through the red tape – Live Again Fresno mobilized to get food along with some learning materials to these kids.

It’s not just homeless kids who are left in a vulnerable situation due to schools closings… but those who live in rural areas far from their school site.

“Schools can be the heartbeat of a community and our kids are missing out right now,” said Fowler High School Principal Rick Romero.

Like other school districts, Fowler Unified is providing breakfast and lunches to its students at three school sites – but there are hundreds of kids who live miles from their schools and can’t get to them.

Volunteers, current, and former students pack the meals in a van and travel to several rural bus stops. Those who can pick up the meals do – and those who can’t have the meals delivered right to them.

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