Hampton Roads schools plan to serve lunch to students learning from home

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HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – Thousands of local children count on their school cafeteria for a hot meal each day.

77% of students in both Portsmouth and Norfolk public schools qualify for a free or reduced lunch, but learning from home doesn’t mean they’ll go hungry.

Portsmouth has been providing grab and go sack lunches all summer long to kids ages from one to 18.

Tarnesha Crawley uses the program for her children. In the latest bag she picked up, inside she found “tacos and juice and corn dogs and applesauce.”

When school starts, however, the rules change. The USDA mandates when and what schools can serve and to whom. First, you have to prove you are a student.

Portsmouth Schools Food Services Coordinator Jim Gehlhoff told WAVY.com, “We’re still working on the logistics, but we’re planning right now to do ID cards for all the students.”

Gehlhoff says Portsmouth’s plan will allow kids to pick up breakfast and lunch at the same time at either one of the designated school buildings or from a bus. Gehlhoff says they’re going to make stops in as many neighborhoods as they can to make food accessible to all families.

“Yes, it’s very important to me. We need more meals like this for our kids during the times that you know we’re struggling right now,” Crawley said.

The plan is to serve it up between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. before classes begin. “We’re still going to try to provide some hot meals obviously, because there’s nothing better than a hot meal,” Gehlhoff said.

He said it will likely be a slice of pizza or burger you can reheat at home; food to fuel young bodies and brains so they can focus on learning.

Other local school district plans

Newport News will also provide food at schools and mobile sites.
Norfolk, and Hampton schools will have take-out meals available from various schools.
Chesapeake and Virginia Beach will provide lunches at all of their schools.

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