DANVILLE — The Danville Area School District’s food services expected to distribute more than 100 meals to families in need during the first summer weekly food giveaway on Monday.
The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is helping the district provide meals to families who are facing financial troubles due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The giveaway Monday was held between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Danville Middle School.
“We served lot of meals, I think over 14,000 meals, since schools were shut down,” said Bob Lauck, general manager of food services for Metz Culinary Management DASD, the district’s food service provider. “The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank has provided fresh produce boxes to hand out to every family.”
Lauck said the district started doing 60 meals per day, and that increased to more than 120 at one point before it leveled off to about 110.
With summer camps canceled, school districts such as Danville will continue to provide meals as part of the Seamless Summer Food Program offered by USDA. To continue to feed the whole family, the food bank also will provide Crisis Response Boxes, filled with perishable and non-perishable items.
Danville and other local school districts partnered with the food bank to provide food as the districts closed schools during the pandemic three months ago.
Central Pennsylvania Food Bank spokeswoman Carla Fisher said the food bank wants to make sure there is enough nutritious food for families, especially those with children.
“The school provides school lunches and breakfast,” Fisher said. “With a child, it’s a whole family in need.”
She added, “With COVID, it really hits so many families in a whole new way we’ve never seen before. So making sure that everyone is taken care of and no one goes hungry is definitely our mission.”
Fisher said the food bank’s summer feeding programs usually works with summer camps.
“They’ve all been closed this summer,” she said. “We’re so glad Danville has agreed to continue feeding its student body. From one month to the next, we have seen a 40 percent increase in those we have fed.”
She said the increases in different school districts has varied from 10 percent to as much as 300 percent.
The giveaways will continue all summer, Lauck said.
Micaela Riley, a Danville Head Start family advocate, picked up some meals on Monday to take to families.
“I work with the low-income families, I do home visits. During the pandemic, I ask if they need any help able to pay their bills.”
“I can’t believe how much families are getting,” Riley said.
She said she also gets food for herself. While a lot of the Head Start families do pick up the meals themselves, many others are out of town and it is difficult to get to the school to pick them up. families do come and pick it up.
“I definitely think it’d be a little bit harder if this wasn’t here,” Riley said.
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) allows the food bank to partner with churches, community organizations and public parks to provide free, nutritious meals and snacks to children during the summer months. Last summer, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank sponsored more than 100 summer feeding sites in 14 counties, serving more than 2,300 children each week.