Pottsgrove Pondering Meals Service In Summer

LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – With the Pottsgrove School District academic year soon scheduled to end, administrators are pondering how they can, or if they could, continue its free meals program through the summer months for students age 18 and younger.

Questioned Tuesday (May 12, 2020) during the district Board of School Directors’ virtual meeting about the possibility of vacation months meals, Superintendent Dr. William Shirk acknowledged he, the district Business Department, and representatives of food services’ vendor Chartwells were already discussing the subject.

“There’s a lot of moving parts to that,” Shirk added in response, although he did not address specifics. He did say, however, that consideration of summer meal distributions was continuing. Depending on its progress, Shirk said he might address the subject at a later board meeting.

Since its launch March 16 as the coronavirus outbreak became more widespread, administrators have generally considered Pottsgrove’s weekly school-time meals program a success. It’s been popular among families who have lost jobs or are dealing with reduced incomes as a result of the pandemic. For some, the program has functioned as a lifeline to keep young ones fed.

It also won praise from other district residents who, although they don’t rely on the program themselves, say they know friends and neighbors who do. Pottsgrove has, in public comments on social media, been labeled as “compassionate” and “caring” for its efforts.

During the nine weeks between the March start and the latest (Monday, May 11) distribution, the district reported it handed out 71,568 meals. The lowest distribution, in Week 1, was 3,952 meals; the highest, in Week 2, 10,040. Weekly distributions average out to 7,952, but statistics for Weeks 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8 all surpassed that number.

The program is funded by government subsidies, according to district Business Administrator David Nester.

Recent reporting on school systems elsewhere in the nation indicates they have either made decisions on, or also face similar deliberations about, providing summer meals:

  • Northeastern Georgia schools declared Wednesday (May 13) they will continue their meals programs through the summer. Some include not only grab-and-go sites but deliveries along school bus routes as well. In portions of the state, counties and districts are partnering to provide the service.
  • Several school districts in Oklahoma announced Tuesday they intended to temporarily cancel summer school and programming in response to the continuing pandemic, and to provide summer meals for students as a result.
  • In Kansas, Wichita area schools on Monday said they will continue free breakfast and lunch programs this summer, but take a week-long break at the end of May.

Photo from Defense.gov, used under a Creative Commons license