By Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff
With a handful of balloons, a bottle of sparkling cider, and social-distancing fanfare, the Edmonds School District celebrated the distribution of its one-millionth meal to district families since the pandemic began.
On Thursday, October 15, Edmonds School District (ESD) staff gathered at College Place Elementary School to join Superintendent Dr. Gustavo Balderas in serving the one-millionth grab-n-go meal by curbside pickup since moving to virtual learning on March 16, 2020.
“We are thrilled to hit a monumental milestone of serving the one-millionth free meal to a family in our community,” ESD spokesperson Harmony Weinberg said.
Elliot Nash, a student at Seaview Elementary School received the millionth meal and for good measure, two bubble wands.
“It’s just been awesome to have the supplies necessary for the kids to make it through these weird times,” mother Meghan Nash said.
Throughout the pandemic, ESD’s Food and Nutrition Department has partnered with the Foundation for Edmonds School District’s Nourishing Network to coordinate meal service at 50 select community and district campus locations. For those unable to make it to a meal pickup location, the district is serving students through home delivery via a food truck.
“There’s a lot of need,” Balderas said, explaining the district’s effort to provide supplemental food items. “Especially during the pandemic… being able to support our community is value-added to the system. We value that at the district, to be able to help as a collective with partners to be able to provide meals for our families needing some assistance.”
Meal boxes include seven days’ worth of breakfast and lunch meeting federal nutrition standards packaged together, and right now, they’re available to all children aged 1-18 regardless of circumstance, Megan de Vries, Food and Nutrition Services Director said.
“We’re trying to break the stigma around school meals and normalize it for all families,” de Vries said. “This is for all kids, whether it saves you money to put towards something else or it’s helping you get fresh fruits and vegetables that usually wouldn’t be in your household budget.”
The district has distributed approximately 250,000 meals since the academic year began on September 8, averaging 50,000 a week.
“Right now, we’re serving about 3,500 different kids, and we have 20,000 in the district,” de Vries continued. “We would love to serve more kiddos, and we have the capacity to do so.”
Families do not need to preregister or qualify for meal benefits to receive grab-n-go meal boxes for their children. However, the district is encouraging families who qualify to complete an application for free and reduced meal benefits. The application is tied to school funding and provides other reduced fees for qualifying families. For more on grab-n-go meals and site locations, visit https://www.edmonds.wednet.edu/cms/One.aspx?portalId=306754&pageId=32139453.