Pictured from the left, Volunteer Leah Smith, Denham Springs Elementary Principal Gail DeLee and Assistant Superintendent Stephen Parrill prepare to load a dolly of packaged meals into DeLee’s sports utility van for them to be distributed to families in the Denham Springs community. DeLee picked up the meals at the school board office warehouse on Wednesday
LIVINGSTON, La. – Livingston Parish Public Schools Superintendent Joe Murphy announced today (March 25) that the district’s food service employees have procured pre-packaged meals that school employees and volunteers will distribute to families across the parish.
The district immediately shut down its drive-through meal service on March 22 in response to the governor’s statewide “stay-at-home” order. At that time, the district was providing hot meals for families, utilizing many volunteers, food service professionals and teachers to prepare and distribute the hot meals, making the continuation of that service problematic under the order and call for social distancing.
However, with the district’s recent access to pre-packaged food, a small number of volunteers were able to safely gather to package the food items, which were picked up today by principals and school personnel, who in turn delivered the food items to needy families.
“This opportunity provides us with a much safer, more efficient way to get food to our people, so we felt confident in moving forward with this plan,” said Supervisor of Child Nutrition Sommer Purvis.
Purvis said staff packaged meal bags over the past two days – each bag contained provisions for five lunches and two breakfasts. A total of 6,000 meals were packaged. Those bags were picked up by school personnel, who in turn distributed the bags to families in their school communities. Purvis noted that all the meals are shelf stable and meet the nutritional guidelines of the USDA.
“At this time, we are not sure when or if we can obtain additional shipments, so we’re trying to give families one week’s worth of provisions, which hopefully can help to sustain them until additional product is available or the supplemental food services programs suggested by the state are available,” Purvis said.
Purvis said she has applied for enrollment in an emergency food service program through Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty. The program assists school districts in finding vendors that can ship meals directly to students in need, but she is unsure whether there is a vendor that can service Livingston Parish.
“We know this is a critical service for so many of our families. That’s why our food service staff and central office leadership have worked feverishly to find a way to feed our children,” Murphy said.
“Although we had to suspend our original action plan, we in no way stopped working to finding a new plan to provide for our children. We are currently exploring all other options to continue this plan beyond today. We have begun applying for other provisions and searching for new ways and opening new doors to get food to our children,” he said.
Pictured below – Supervisor of Child Nutrition Sommer Purvis hands one of several boxes of pre-packaged meals to her husband, Assistant Superintendent Jody Purvis, to be loaded onto a dolly. The boxes of packaged meals seen were designated for delivery in the South Denham Springs area. Southside Junior High Principal Wes Partin and ESL Director Yvette Spears picked up the boxes and delivered them to strategic locations, as well as door-to-door, in their community.