VIRGINIA BEACH — On Friday, March 20, public school employees stood outside Birdneck Elementary School. Throughout the morning, families drove up to the front of the school near where Birdneck Road and General Booth Boulevard meet to pick up meals and, in some cases, to exchange Chromebooks used by students in their studies.
It was a brief moment of face-to-face reconnection between families and the schools, though it was from what is considered a safe distance these days. The new coronavirus means students were home that day – and, within days of this visit, the governor announced that will stay the case for the remainder of this current academic year.
In some cases, students rely upon food they get at school, and Virginia Beach is among the many communities providing this resource to families. So is Currituck County, N.C., where the schools have been declared closed through May 15. The county Meals on Wheels program has reported growing demand for its free meals for students. Meals in Currituck are served 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and there are distribution points in Gibbs Woods and on Knotts Island.
At Birdneck Elementary in Virginia Beach, Principal R.V. Yoshida greeted one parent and gave them a message to pass along. “You can tell anyone in your neighborhood we are the closest elementary school,” he said.
The schools are providing free meals to students at 36 schools in the city and five neighborhood drop-off sites from 9 a.m. to noon, weekdays. Children must be present to get the meals, a breakfast and a lunch, bagged to be picked up from a table.
Virginia Beach Schools Superintendent Aaron Spence in a video message released on Thursday, March 26, said they have delivered about 10,000 meals each day in the city.
“Our intention is to continue to distribute meals as long as we are able to do so,” the superintendent said.
Parents who stopped by Birdneck Elementary included a dad, multitasking during a conference call for work, who needed a Chromebook swapped out for his child and a mom picking up meals who said her military family needed all the resources they could get amid the public health crisis.
Angela Boothe, the cafeteria manager, worked to make sure the meals were bagged and ready to go for students, and she said the demand has been strong for this service.
“It’s increasing each day,” she said.
Students from anywhere in the system can come get meals – they just have to be present when their parent brings them to pick it up.
“We’re putting a breakfast and a lunch in the bag,” said Dr. John Smith, director of food services for Virginia Beach schools, who praised his staff and personnel at the schools for their efforts to provide meals while staying safe amid the emergency.
“That’s what (the U.S. Department of Agriculture) allows,” he said during a telephone interview. “That’s two squares a day that a parent doesn’t have to worry about.”
There’s another important piece of the effort – that it comes at a time when students and the educators and staff of their schools are apart, connected only by technology.
“I think it gives them a good sense of, ‘Hey, you’re not in this alone,” Smith said.
Meals for Virginia Beach students are available for drive-by/pickup at 36 schools and five neighborhood distribution sites from 9 a.m. to noon, weekdays. Meals are bagged and include lunch and breakfast. Children must be present for meals.
► Arrowhead Elementary, 5549 Susquehanna Drive
► Bayside Elementary, 5649 Bayside Road
► Birdneck Elementary, 957 S. Birdneck Road
► Brookwood Elementary, 601 S. Lynnhaven Road
► College Park Elementary, 1110 Bennington Road
► Cooke Elementary, 1501 Mediterranean Avenue
► Green Run Elementary, 1200 Green Garden Circle
► Holland Elementary, 3340 Holland Road
► Kempsville Meadows Elementary, 736 Edwin Drive
► Kings Grant Elementary, 612 N. Lynnhaven Road
► Luxford Elementary, 4808 Haygood Road
► Lynnhaven Elementary, 210 Dillon Drive
► Malibu Elementary, 3632 Edinburgh Drive
► Newtown Elementary, 5277 Learning Circle
► Parkway Elementary, 4180 O’Hare Drive
► Pembroke Meadows Elementary, 820 Cathedral Drive
► Point O’View Elementary, 5400 Parliament Drive
► Rosemont Elementary, 1257 S. Rosemont Road
► Seatack Elementary, 912 S. Birdneck Road
► Shelton Park Elementary, 1700 Shelton Road
► Tallwood Elementary, 2025 Kempsville Road
► Thalia Elementary, 421 Thalia Road
► White Oaks Elementary, 960 Windsor Oaks Boulevard
► Williams Elementary, 892 Newtown Road,
► Windsor Oaks Elementary, 3800 Van Buren Drive
► Windsor Woods Elementary, 233 Presidential Boulevard
► Woodstock Elementary, 6016 Providence Road
► Bayside Middle, 965 Newtown Road
► Bayside 6th Grade Campus, 4722 Jericho Road
► Brandon Middle, 1700 Pope Street
► Corporate Landing Middle, 1597 Corporate Landing Pkwy
► Larkspur Middle, 4696 Princess Anne Road
► Lynnhaven Middle, 1250 Bayne Drive
► Plaza Middle, 3080 S. Lynnhaven Road
► Bayside High, 4960 Haygood Road
► Green Run High, 1700 Dahlia Drive
► Atlantis Apartments Community Office, 999 Atlantis Drive
► Campus East via Ebenezer Baptist Church, 965 Baker Road
► Friendship Apartments Office, 1235 Friendship Square
► Lake Edwards via Enoch Baptist Church, 5641 Herbert Moore Road
► Level Green Community Park, Level Green Boulevard
The Meals on Wheels program for children in Currituck County, N.C., provides lunch and breakfast for the following day, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, while schools are closed.
Sites In Our Coverage Area
► Gibbs Woods Community Center, 332 East Gibbs Road
► Knotts Island Elementary School, 413 Woodleigh Road
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