Missouri has consistently ranked as one of the worst states in the nation for people having access to enough food. Many students count on their schools to provide them with a number of basic needs, including nutritious meals.

Getting meals to Missouri students learning online: “Where there’s a will there’s a way”

When Missouri’s schools closed in March to fight the spread of COVID-19, the community sprang into action to help ensure that students did not go hungry. Educators, parents, philanthropists, the Missouri National Guard and others have worked to fill the hearts, bellies and minds of our youth during these uncertain times. Some continued to do so throughout the summer and even today.

Now that the academic year has started again, Missouri schools are taking a variety of approaches to get food to kids learning remotely who also qualify for free or reduced price meals. Phil Murray, president of the Missouri National Education Association, says schools have been creative.

“A lot of places – there’s just multiple delivery spots. I know that in Poplar Bluff, where I’m from, actually they sat through the summer and actually used the schools and other locations as drop-off points for food for families. I think that where there’s a will there’s a way,” says Murray.

Some schools are also using buses to deliver food directly to kids.

“We know how important it is to make sure that our kids are taken care of and I think that’s something that we’re all on the same page on,” he says.

Doug Thaman, executive director of the Missouri Charter Public School Association, says the state’s charter schools, which are in St. Louis and Kansas City, are taking similar measures.

“That was really important as a community to make sure that we were covering all those areas and did not have any families who just were unable to provide nutritious meals to their kids,” he says.

Thaman says some Missouri charter schools are pickup sites for anyone in the community with kids 18 and under to stop by and get meals once or twice a week. Others are running buses to key locations in neighborhoods for families who live further out and might not have transportation.

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