LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The days of hundreds of students eating together in a cafeteria are over, at least for now, as the Clark County School District enters a new school year with full virtual distance learning.
In response, CCSD is massively expanding its food distribution program to feed hungry students stuck at home during the day.
Food Services Director David Wines says the district will open 300 breakfast and lunch distribution sites on Monday for kids K-12.
"We're dealing with unprecedented times," Wines said.
CCSD Dietician Lory Hayon says to make the distribution work in the safest way possible the district will split pick-up times by grade.
Elementary students can pick up their meals between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., middle school students window is between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., and high school students can grab their meals between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
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As of now, parents, guardians, or students will have to enter the location's cafeteria to collect their meals.
"Students, parents, or guardians will have to wear a face-covering to enter the cafeteria location to receive their meals," Hayon said.
They can find all distribution centers close to them on the CCSD Nutrislice website.
As of now, any student not enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program will have to pay for their meals, but the district has applied for a federal waiver through the USDA that would allow them to provide free meals to every student.
Outside of school hours pantries and food banks like Three Square Food Bank are trying to make sure that hungry families get the help they need.
COO Larry Scott says the demand has skyrocketed since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
"There were about 270,000 food-insecure people pre-pandemic," Scott said, "now, that number is approaching 450,000. It's just so much growth."
Scott says Three Square is working with area rec centers to feed students outside of school and will continue to support their handful of distribution centers for meals.
He says continuing to meet the need has been hard.
The coronavirus has kept volunteers from helping the food bank pack meals at their headquarters hamstringing their operations.
"We just have such a critical obligation to make sure people don't go hungry in our neighborhood," Scott says.
He says anyone looking to help can donate money and food, and volunteer to help hand out food at their outdoor distribution locations.