VBCPS adds new way for families to receive free meals

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Virginia Beach City Public Schools returned to virtual learning last month amid rising coronavirus cases.

However, a virtual classroom is a lot easier to operate than a virtual cafeteria, but the division is making it work. The school district has families covered with meals available for pickup or delivery.

In a normal situation, the cafeteria hall at Green Run High School would be filled with students ready to eat lunch, but because of the pandemic, cafeteria workers across the district are working very hard to bring that lunch straight to the students instead.

“It was always the noise, just hearing them chatter, and this was the happiest time, you know, when they got away from the classrooms,” said cafeteria manager Brenda Burford.

“Their smile, and they talk to you, and they love it when you know their names,” she added.

Now all she sees is an empty room. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t mouths to feed.

“With all the stresses that are going on, it’s just reassuring to know that we can provide some support and take a little less stress off of somebody’s life,” said Todd Tarkenton, principal at Green Run High School.

There are some new offerings this week. Not only are lunch and breakfast provided, but now families can expect a dinner option.

“Right now, we are serving somewhere between [25,000] and 28,000 bags a day. [120,000] to 140,000 bags a week,” said Food Director John Smith.

He said providing a third meal was necessary.

“There is always going to be a need. The hunger doesn’t stop at lunchtime, it continues on. If a kid needs breakfast and lunch, they are still going to need supper as well.”

That’s why they’ve also added food drop-off locations with buses.

“We felt like it was needed to try and target that lunchtime where perhaps a child is free and can go up [to] the bus and get their meal and take it back to the house,” he said.

This method is provided to all families with help from United States Department of Agriculture, which leaves them with less waste and more money.

“Every meal you take is that much less than you have to pay out of your own family budget. And it does help the foodservice operation for the school division pay its bills,” said Smith.

Smith hands over his gratitude to the cafeteria workers.

“83 cafeteria managers have been battling daily since March. They’ve worked every day, they’ve worked through the summer, they work through the fall,” he explained.

And the cafeteria workers will be glad when the halls are bustling again.

“We miss you and we’ll be glad when you can come back face-to-face with us,” said Burford.

Information on the bus schedules or what meals will be provided for the day can be found here.


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