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School District Modifies Food Distribution Program

The school district will reduce the number of days it is handing out “Go Packs” of food. (File photo).

The school district has cut the number of days it is distributing food as a result of Gov. Phil Murphy’s latest Executive Order regarding the coronavirus.

Schools Superintendent John Ravally said that the district made the change because it is “trying to minimize the number of staff and frequency of staff in buildings to deliver service, as a result of the (governor’s) executive order.”

Murphy on March 21 tightened restrictions on state residents, closing “non-essential” businesses, banning gatherings of 10 or more people and reinforcing his recommendation that people stay home, especially between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Ravally said in a message that food will be distributed from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Mondays and Thursdays, when three-day breakfast and lunch “Go Packs” will be distributed.

As before the food will be distributed at Elizabeth Avenue, Pine Grove Manor, Hillcrest and Franklin Middle School – Hamilton Street campus schools, Ravally said.

Additionally, the district will deploy six to 10 school buses from 9-11 a.m. Mondays and Thursdays to “strategically determined bus stops” to serve those children who are not within walking distance to one of the four schools, Ravally said.

Those buses will also distribute the three-day “Go Packs,” he said.

“We need time to set the bus routes so bus delivery begins (March 26),” Ravally said in his message.

“Also we will not be distributing by bus or at distribution sites the week of our scheduled Spring Break April 6 – April 13 but we do intend on providing extra food to families just prior to Spring Break to help carry them through,” he said. “We will pick up our schedule on Tuesday, April 14th and after that get back on our Thursday – Monday schedule.”

The modified practice will “help limit exposure and reduce risk for food service staff as well as those coming to pick up food,” he said.

The distribution sites will have two servers, a security officer and two custodians, while the buses will have a driver and bus paraprofessional, he said.

“We have a limited number of staff manning these sites and have instructed them to practice social distancing and distribution will be similar to how we have been distributing food at a distance,” Ravally said in his message. “This will help us to carry-out the next phase of our remote learning plan and will be the last time we will be bringing community to schools except for food pick up until we officially open our doors again.”

“On days we are not distributing building, access to all buildings will be limited to custodians with 2 custodians per site on any given shift to maintain boilers and complete hourly building checks,” Ravally said in his message.

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