Schools distribute over 40,000 free meals during closure

As of Wednesday, March 25, the Ann Arbor Public Schools have given 40,322 free meals to 1,832 families since the Covid-19 school closure was announced. District officials say the distribution will continue over spring break. 

The district has developed 17 sites throughout and near the Ann Arbor area–including Scarlett Middle and Carpenter Elementary schools, four community centers, and other housing and apartment spaces. According to the AAPS website, this food is for any student under age 18 or with special needs under age 26.

The district is continuing its focus on providing nutritious meals to students during this pandemic. Victoria Davis, the AAPS Director of Food Services, says that the Ann Arbor Public Schools are distributing breakfast items like muffins, cheese, cereal, and fruit, and lunch/dinner foods like salad, sandwiches, pizza, vegetables, and milk. Food will be available from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Friday for the next two weeks. If an Ann Arbor Public Schools student has food-related allergies or is unable to pick up the free food at the allotted time and/or location, they can call the food hotline at 734-994-2265, where alternate arrangements will be made, including pick-up from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday through Friday. 

Overall, the reaction to the continued food distribution from students and families has been positive. In a letter written to the AAPS Food Service, two students and their family expressed their gratitude. “We appreciate you going out of your way during this difficult time to give us a healthy and balanced meal,” the letter states. “We are wishing you health and safety to your families during this time.” 

Jonathan Stern, Pioneer school social worker who has been helping with the effort, said, “There have been times when the site I work on has run out of food, so people are sent to another site, and there is only appreciation expressed, no anger or frustration.”  He added that, “People on walks who go past us will ask what is going on and then they will thank us for doing it. That’s a good feeling.” 

Jeanice Swift, superintendent of the Ann Arbor Public Schools, expressed her gratitude towards everyone helping with the food distribution in an email sent to AAPS families on March 13. She singled out Chartwells, Durham Transportation Services, and the Ann Arbor Police Department for their assistance with food drop-offs. “We appreciate the outpouring of community support we have already seen from so many businesses, non-profits, and other community organizations to help meet the needs of all of our students,” she said.

Additionally, the Chelsea and Dexter school districts are also participating in the dispersal of free food, as well as restaurants like Burger King, Palm Palace, and TeaHaus/Eat More Tea. Saline Area Social Services is giving out pre-packaged groceries on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Milan High School is hosting a drive-thru food pickup.