By Kinnidy Thoreson, Staff Writer
On June 1, Spartanburg School District Four began the Seamless Summer Program to provide children with lunches as summer begins and quarantine continues. The program operates out of Woodruff High School and is staffed by district employees as well as volunteers.
The program is a continuation from the mobile lunch program that was implemented back in mid-March when District 4 students began distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From March until the end of the school year, the district delivered lunches to bus stops and student’s homes, but the summer program offers curbside pickup at the high school.
The delivery change was necessary because when summer school started, it was hard to distinguish between those on bus routes and those who needed to be worked into a mobile route. With curbside pickup, the District can reach more than just the students who are on usual bus routes during the school year.
“The Summer Seamless Program is not different from the one in March. However, it is different from any other part of the year because it is specific to the national emergency. The USDA allows us to give multiple meals at a time and allows students to eat off site in order to comply with social distancing guidelines,” said Audra Terry, the food services director of the program.
Terry is referring to the USDA’s nationwide non-congregate feeding waiver in response to the COVID-19 Child Nutrition Response Act. The waiver remains in effect until August 31.
Since the program only packs and hands out food, Terry says that they have a back-up supply and so far, have never run out of trays. “I hope it will grow,” she adds. Around 300 people per day benefit from the program.
“The meals provided are to serve anyone who is 18 or younger. Parents don’t get out, they tell us how many children are in the family and we deliver to the car,” said Terry.
While the summer program doesn’t deliver meals, Officer Darrell Dawkins does take meals to Kelly Acres daily, Terry explains. She says that they do all they can to still meet the needs of those who cannot come to the school every day.
“I’ve kind of put the word out that if there is any need, we’ll figure something out,” Terry said. She has touched base with the Woodruff Community Center and other community members who may be willing to deliver to the few who are without transportation.
Terry elaborates, “We are passionate about making sure we do everything we can to make sure the children of our community do not face the problem of food insecurity and that they have the nutrition they need. Our goal is to make sure our students continue to grow and learn, both happy and healthy.”
[Photo Caption] Jill Hennett, an assistant teacher at Woodruff Primary School, makes and distributes food trays for District Four’s Summer Seamless Program.