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COVID-19

News >  Spokane

Spokane Public Schools meets demand for to-go food but anticipates need will grow

Annaliese Kaluza, 5, left, and Natalie Kaluza, 4, receive food Friday afternoon at Lincoln Heights Elementary School in Spokane. (Jim  Allen / The Spokesman-Review)
Annaliese Kaluza, 5, left, and Natalie Kaluza, 4, receive food Friday afternoon at Lincoln Heights Elementary School in Spokane. (Jim Allen / The Spokesman-Review)

After a few adjustments, food distribution at Spokane Public Schools hit its stride Friday in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Not a single site ran out of food today, which is awesome,” district spokesperson Ally Barrera said after the district served about 3,500 children at 21 buildings throughout the city.

Among them was Lincoln Heights Elementary School, which ran out of its stock of 100 breakfast/lunch combos on Thursday, forcing staff to order more.

Not so on Friday, when the district stocked the South Hill school with 150 meals.

Business was steady during the two-hour window that lasted from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and about a dozen were left when Caroline Kaluza and her two young daughters ambled up with a stroller.

“Getting them out of the house to be able to come here is priceless,” Kaluza said.

Kaluza took the bags, tossed them in the stroller and pulled out a bag. It held a towel, soaked with cleanser ahead of a playdate in the Lincoln Heights playground.

Strange times, everyone agreed.

They may get more difficult. As employees Vicki Witt and Julie Lee handed out food, they considered the rumor of the day: that Gov. Jay Inslee was about to institute a statewide lockdown.

That didn’t happen, but after a few minutes they were joined by Principal Meghan Anderson. Satisfied that the food demand would be met, she looked ahead to next week.

“I think there will be more food insecurity issues next week as families run out,” Anderson said.

That’s also the expectation at the district, which plans to widen distribution to 37 sites next week.

Out of 31,000 students in the district, 57% receive free and reduced-price meals. On a normal day, that means 16,000 lunches and 8,500 breakfasts, so the district expects no problems meeting increased demand.

Under federal guidelines, however, children must be present to receive food, although Spokane and other districts are seeking a waiver of that requirement.

The district also is receiving inquiries from community members who wish to help.

“I know our SPS Foundation would be a great place to donate,” said Doug Wordell, head of nutrition for the district.

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