Successful meal program feeds hungry students

By Hannibal Courier-Post
Posted: Apr. 4, 2020 5:01 pm

HANNIBAL | A student meal program, launched shortly after Hannibal schools were closed in response to the coronavirus threat, is succeeding, according to Rich Stilley, business manager for the Hannibal School District.

“I am very pleased with the program, our staff and the community for all of the support,” Stilley said, citing the school district's food service and transportation teams for their dedication to the program. “Watching our staff collaborate to find better and smarter ways of preparing these meals has been a great experience.

“I also cannot thank Douglass (Community Services) enough for their collaboration and cooperation.”

A breakfast and lunch are provided by the Hannibal School District while a snack and supper are supplied by DCS.

Demand for the meals has been greater than was initially anticipated.

“Honestly, we really did not know what to expect. The numbers grew steadily the first week, from about 1,100 on Monday to just a shade under 1,500 per day,” Stilley said.

A total of 500 meals were prepared on the program's opening day a little over a week ago.

“The demand was greater than anticipated and our staff jumped in and doubled the output from Monday and has been working to make sure every child gets a meal who wants or needs one every day,” Stilley said.

School district and DCS meals are hauled aboard school buses to a series of drop points where they are distributed.

“The original 20 drop sites are still in place and I do not see any revisions to them,” Stilley said.

According to Stilley, reaction to the meal program by district patrons has been one of “overwhelming support.”

“Patrons, business partners and the community as a whole have stepped up to offer donations, time and support to and for the program,” he said. “We're so happy and pleased to be able to offer some respite of normalcy to our students and families during this unprecedented time.”

How long the meal program will continue is anyone's guess. “I honestly do not know,” Stilley said. “Right now, we are scheduled to return to school as planned on April 14. However, that can be revised at any time. If that date is extended, I believe that we will feed our kids as long as necessary.”



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