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Charlotte, Shelby County Schools Rolls Out Meal Bundle Programs

  • North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Shelby County Schools in Memphis devised efficient distribution systems to deliver meals to students as schools opened using an all-remote instructional model due to the pandemic.

    Charlotte-Mecklenburg dubbed its plan “CMS Eats at Home.” Five days’ allotment of meals – breakfasts and lunches – were prepared by cafeteria staff and distributed either at designated distribution sites or with transportation staff delivering the bundles at students’ bus stops. 

    Each week’s menus were posted on the district’s website with such breakfast selections as a strawberry muffin one day and a “mornin’ bar” another and lunch, including a grilled cheese sandwich one day and a chicken patty another.

    Charlotte Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston offered details of the meal program to the school board, touting two benefits. “Not only will this program provide nutritious meals for our students, but it also offers the opportunity for continued employment for employees whose positions otherwise might have been temporarily suspended with our schools operating in a full remote instructional model,” Winston said, according to a district press release. 

    Shelby County Schools had a similar plan, with meals being prepared by staff at each school and delivered to families at the schools using a drive-through distribution approach. Selections varied but were described as being cold (requiring refrigeration), shelf-stable or quick-heat items.

    The Shelby County school district was distributing seven days of breakfast and lunch packs to all children under the age of 18, including students not enrolled in the local public schools. The district also distributed cooking instructions in both English and Spanish.

    In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, meals were free for all students although sign-up was required, according to the website. In normal times, the district offers breakfast to all students at no charge. Lunches were free to all students at nearly 70 high-poverty schools under the Community Eligibility program and to those who qualified elsewhere.