Meal assistance program helps families but should have clearer information


HiLite Staff

As schools and businesses close, many families are limited in ways to obtain food; however, the Carmel Clay School District was quick to assist via its meal assistance program.

This program, which started on March 18, is primarily for students with free or reduced lunch. Families were to fill out a Google form and to drive to CHS within the given time frame, where staff members would deliver food in a carpool line. According to the CCS website, families received five lunches and some “breakfast items” per student. 

There are many benefits to this program; not only does it provide struggling families with meals, but it’s also a good way to put perishable food items—that otherwise may have gone to waste—to good use. Additionally, signing up requires minimal information. We commend CCS for its efforts to provide meals and supplies for those who need them. To be able to adjust to such an unusual situation and supply needed items for families is admirable. But as we move forward, there are a couple of additional items the district should consider to improve the program even further.

First, the information given on the website and the Google form is rather limited. There is no further information on the contents of the food packages and there is no reassurance on when the next pick up date is planned to be. This information is critical for families who want to plan a schedule for food consumption and the absence of what constitutes as a lunch could leave families uneasy, questioning if the food could be enough. However, more information, including the contents of the food packages, is given on their Twitter, @myCCSCafe. If the website were to mention for people to follow their Twitter, then more people, who may not regularly use Twitter, could be informed. Since twitter may not be the first place people look, it should be emphasized on the CCS website.

According to Food Service staff member Holly Hupenbecker-Hull, the bags families received on March 18 included two peanut butter and jellies, a turkey sandwich, a yogurt lunch and a hummus lunch, with each lunch including one fruit and one vegetable serving and milk. While this may not be the plan for every pickup date, this information could provide families at the very least something to plan for and should be displayed on the COVID-19 district page. 

Another suggestion is to follow the lead of Westfield’s Washington Schools’ (WWS) program. According to the WWS website, there are multiple locations for pickup that have their own unique time frames, which offers more convenience for those that may live far from the primary location. Pickup dates are scheduled to be on Monday and Thursday, with three lunches and breakfasts on Monday and four lunches and breakfasts on Thursday. 

Of course, we recognize this program began rather abruptly, so the absence of this information on launch is understandable as the meals themselves should take priority if time is limited, but now after a successful start, the Carmel Clay Schools District should consider these updates to assist families even better than they already have.

Click here to view the Carmel Clay Schools District website on COVID-19 information. To view more specific information about the meal assistance program, click here.