Broward County Schools Implement New Curbside Food Pick Up Program

by Elise Finlay, Nicholas Gallon, and Armani Brutus

BRAVE STAFF: Food Service Worker Renita Charles and Acting Manager Renai Statman prepare food and drinks to give out to families as they arrive to West Broward High School. Food is given out to all families who come by and it will continue to be served for 2 – 3 hours every Tuesday and Thursday until the end of the school year. Photo by Armani Brutus.

With many students unable to return to campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools are now offering breakfast and lunch via curbside pickup. The curbside pickup for food is a friendly system introduced into all public schools around America. Students who are both unaffected and affected by the pandemic are able to get the nutrition needed to progress with their new E-learning experience.

The new curbside pickup program was a feature added to the public school food service by the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in relation to the pandemic. The program was created as an idea from the National School Lunch Act (NSLA) and was signed by president Harry Truman on June 4th, 1946 in order to protect and safeguard the health and well-being of children across the country. The NSLP created a solution that allows families to come and pick up the food they could no longer receive at schools.  West Broward High School has implemented the program and will continue to hand out meals until all students are back in schools in a face to face learning environment.

“It [NSLP] has always been helpful, but now more than ever because a lot of people are having financial issues or don’t have time with the kids at home. The program makes it easier to at least not worry about the food for them,” said West Broward parent Karina Martinez.

The program supplies over 30 million healthy meals a year to low-income children. With the massive budget cut in Broward County, the school system was worried about what would become of the program after many people had to undergo quarantine due to COVID-19, and schools were forced to shut down. The virus changed how the program would deliver breakfast and lunch to their students. This COVID-friendly system allowed for students to come to the school to pick up meals of their choice from 11a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and 3 to 5 p.m. in the afternoon on Thursdays. With West Broward and many other public schools adding this new adaptation of the program, Broward County is now allowing the students to get food from the National School Breakfast program (NSB) and NSLP while still following safety guidelines.

“Yes, I would like to try to get more people out to come to the Grab N’ Go. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we do Grab N’ Go from 11AM – 1PM, then 3- 5PM. But starting next week, we’re going to do Grab N’ Go from 10 o’clock in the morning till 11 o’clock,” said cafeteria manager Renai Statman. “So I have a feeling we’re going to be losing some people coming through the Grab N’ Go line because they might be back-to-work parents and/or students who might not want to get out of the house to pick up their food if they’re not going to school, but I am hoping that everybody who does return to school next week participates and comes to get their free breakfast and lunch. Because that’s what’s going to keep our jobs.”

HARD AT WORK: Cafeteria worker Claudia Chaves (center) delivers food to a parent at West Broward High School on Saturday, Oct 10, 2020. Security guard, Mirtha Gonzales (left) and cafeteria worker, Giovanna Norrito(right) work with Chaves in order to deliver the food to recipients, constantly applying hand sanitizer in between individual distributions. Photo by Elise Finlay

The curbside pickup program at West Broward has given a variety of options like cold food and drinks, fruits, vegetables, and breakfast items. The process of picking up the food involves families coming through the driveway while staying inside their vehicles to maintain social distancing, while staff wearing masks hand out the food in bags to stay safe and apply hand sanitizer afterwards.

“Personally, I feel like that it was a great idea of them to make a system like this because there are many people that go to our school, or any Broward County School, that don’t have the greatest home situations,” said sophomore Natalia Leal. “A large amount of people depend on those one or two meals that the school gives in order to stay afloat financially.”

The program was expected to last until December 31st of 2020, but it will be extended until the end of the school year. With the food being given out, there has been an increase of people using this system in West Broward and the same could be seen around Broward County as well. The number of meals distributed, before the time change of 10-11 a.m. and 3-5 p.m., was an average of 60 to 130 meals on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Following the new change, there was a decrease of meals being given out of 74-100 meals due to some students being able to go back on campus starting October 13th.

“I think it is an excellent way to bring the children to learn about eating healthy,” said Statman. “It also gives them a way of coming into school and knowing that they’re going to get breakfast and lunch.”

Since the start of the program, the help and aid of the West Broward staff members are crucial when it comes to helping families get the food they need. A lot of staff such as food service workers, assistants, and even some volunteers assist in every way they can. They provide help in numerous ways such as handing out food, keeping track of families and meals as they come and go, and even make sure everyone who’s working stays as safe as possible.

“I think that it’s really good and that it should be shared amongst people who need it,” said freshman Julius Reyes. “It’s benefits are endless and this helps people in need if they can’t afford to spend money on food and are preserving their money.”

As the year of the pandemic and our e-learning experience continues, the curbside pick up system, hosted by West Broward, will still be up and running until the end of the school year. As countless people still come to pick up food from the school every week, the school commits itself to continue on serving meals to those who need it. West Broward High School will continue to work with the parents and will dedicate itself to help all of those in need during the pandemic.

     “It has always been helpful but now more than ever because a lot of people are having financial issues or don’t have time with the kids at home, the program makes it easier to at least not worry about the food for them.”, said West Broward Parent, Karina Martinez

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