Free lunch is the pandemic special du jour

MARK DELAP/ Record-Times Food director Marie Allison is in charge of making sure lunches are prepared and delivered in the new free lunch program provided for students 18 and under. Lunches are prepared and stored in the school cafeteria cooler. The program will run temporarily and was set up in the midst of the school system being shut down due to the coronavirus.



WHEATLAND – The new lunch program being implemented in Wheatland during the time off for students is something that Steve Miller, Superintendent of schools is very passionate about.
The Wyoming school’s hiatus is supposed to last until April 30, but each State is playing it by ear and practicing common sense in dealing with the virus. As the virus is making a move to the north out of Colorado, the schools in Wyoming have a good chance of looking for options to continue the school year.
“Our community has always taken care of our students, our staff, parents and community members” Miller said. “Yeah, education is important, however our overall well-being and taking care of those needs is evident with our food program.”
In the transitions that everyone is experiencing on a daily basis, there is the feeling that the globe is almost spinning out of control.
“Things are changing so quickly,” Miller said. “We’re just trying to keep up with the way the epidemic is going. At the moment we are offering free meals to any student 18 and under. You don’t need to necessarily sign up, although it’s nice to know ahead of time how many meals to make.”
In Wheatland there is a pickup point from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. at the West Elementary parking lot.
“It’s curbside, so you don’t even have to go in,” Miller said. “We hand you the meals for how many students you may have. We started this week and it was really successful, and then we will go again next week as well.”
At the end of the second week, the administration will play it by ear as to whether the Governor has cleared students to go back to school. If not, the program may continue to go as long as the virus keeps the students out of the school building.
“We’re still going to figure out what we need to do in the coming weeks, but with all the different variables in play we don’t know yet,” he said. “Also, in Glendo and Chugwater we have it available for families that need it. And we do have pickup points in those locations as well in front of their schools.”
The program is actually an embellishment of the Backpack Program which provides weekend meals to students in need. Meals are sent home each Friday in backpacks with food for the weekend.
“We are piggybacking off the backpack program,” Miller said. “To make it easier, the pickup time for the Backpack Program is also at West at that same time. Our food director, Marie Allison has been working really close with them and trying to coordinate as well as with our district.”
The program is trying to get publicity out on Facebook pages, on radio, in the newspaper and by word-of-mouth that if there is a need, there is more than enough food to help you out if you are hungry on the weekend. Miller commented that since the program was initiated, people from all over the community have stepped up to help out with donations and volunteering.
Before the first week was over, the program had already prepared and distributed over 300 meals. The crisis is testing the mettle of the strength of the community and thus far, the line has held strong.
“I’m embracing the extra time that we have to help others,” Miller concluded. “I see this as an opportunity that you may not get again to spend time with your family. Things we may have taken for granted before, we are certainly not now, and I hope we never do.”
Platte County School District No. 1 began distance learning on Monday. Teachers provide class instruction to students online during the morning and in the afternoon they are available for individual assistance online. Parents who need assistance or equipment should contact the Technology Help Desk. Hours are Monday through Friday: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Call (307) 322-0218.
Prom was postponed until April 25 but since the Governor’s orders were extending to April 30, alternate dates are being discussed and a survey will be sent out to to the students. Graduation is still planned for May 17.

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