By Laurin Stroud
The Gibson County Special School District continues to provide free meals for children under the age of 18, and Dyer School is handing out thousands of them each week.
“Monday [April 13], we handed out close to 2,000 meals in Dyer alone,” Dyer principal Kevin Turner said, “We have a lot of support from the district. High school cafeteria workers, central office workers, and other principals are helping.”
These school lunches have helped take a burden off of families as well as provide comfort for children.
“Sure, they help us save grocery money, and they are healthy, tasty, and fresh,” Cassie Prestinizi posted on social media.
“The school lunches provide familiarity and comfort for my kids,” said Cheryl Martin of Dyer. “But the biggest thing, I think, is that my kids know they are prepared by hands that care for them and love them, they get to see those familiar faces when we go get the food, and they know the school staff hasn’t forgotten about them! They have helped us tremendously.”
“It is something that is consistent and at the same time like Christmas,” Brooke Clanton posted. “You don’t know what will be in the bags! The boys have really enjoyed them.”
Schools distribute one hot meal and enough cold meals, breakfasts, milk, and juice to cover until the next pick up day. Meals may be picked up at every elementary school in the district Monday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Turner said that in Dyer, vehicles are lined up in the parking lot and down the street by 11 a.m. each of those days.
Recently, the district changed the guidelines so that children do not have to be present to pick up the meals.
“Any child 18 or younger that is staying in the area, can come and get a meal,” Turner said. “We have grandparents and babysitters that come get meals for children. Our goal is to make sure that all the children are taken care of.”
Signup is no longer required either. Families are encouraged to pick up the number of meals they need on the designated day at the designated times.
Last week, Governor Bill Lee recommended that all school districts in the state remain closed for the spring semester. The Gibson County Special School District will comply with his request and continue serving meals through May 18.
“The meals will continue until Monday, May 18th,” Turner said. “Thursday, May 22 would have been our last day of school, and we would not have had lunch on the last day, so we will continue on the same schedule.”