Updated March 16, 2020 - 6:33 pm
The Clark County School District began handing out free meals at nearly two dozen sites around the Las Vegas Valley on Monday to preserve a vital lifeline to needy students during the shutdown of Nevada’s public schools.
By the end of the day, the district reported it had handed out around 7,600 meals to students at the food distribution pods. CCSD typically serves 100,000 breakfast and 175,000 lunches on an average school day, officials said.
Programs that serve children during the summer will be utilized to provide food during the school closures, according to the Nevada Department of Agriculture, which emphasized that all sites should still practice social distancing by using a drive-through service where possible.
Meal service is the department’s first planned response to the closures, but should they result in reduced kitchen capacity, the department will provide household food, not prepared meals, according to a statement shared on social media.
In addition to the CCSD sites, two charter schools in Clark County are serving drive-through meals: Equipo Academy and Quest Las Vegas. Locations throughout Nevada are listed on the Nevada Agriculture Twitter page.
At Centennial High School, food service workers said they had handed out approximately 180 meals by 10:15 a.m., with most families pulling up drive-through style to the pickup spot.
They encouraged families to be ready with their student ID numbers next time, though they were not required on Monday. School officials have said students must be present and that parents are not allowed to pick up meals for kids at home.
A spot check of other food pickup sites on the first day after Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Sunday ordered the state’s public and charter schools to close for three weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus, found significant demand on the first day of the new program. Clark High School had given out more than 300 meals by around 11 a.m. and Spring Valley High School reported providing 232 meals around the same time.
Meals are also reaching students in rural areas. Indian Springs High School Principal Brian Wiseman said CCSD food services came to the school and will continue to do so for the duration of the closure to prepare meals. The school served meals to 25 students Monday, Wiseman said.
The meals will change daily, with menus for all 22 district pickup sites posted on the Nutrislice website. On Monday, the meals included a burrito, a banana muffin, raisins, fruit cups, crackers, milk and juice.
While picking up meals for her children, CCSD bus driver Shelly Fernandez said she offered to drive other students to the food pickup spots if they didn’t have a means of transportation.
“A lot of these kids depend on breakfast and lunch at school,” Fernandez said. “If we’re even five minutes late, I hear them saying they’ll only have five minutes to eat.”