Lunch program at Hamilton K-8 brightens students’ week

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Hamilton K-8 School staff are ready to pass out weekly meals and educational packets for students at the meal distribution drive-thru event Wednesday, April 22. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo

Waves and smiles greeted Hamilton K-8 School staff as they passed out boxed lunches to many of the school’s students during the weekly meal distribution drive up event Wednesday, April 22.

During the Hemet Unified School District closure, March 16 through June 19, Nutrition Services is providing meals free of charge to children 18 years of age and under. Meals are served Wednesdays at various school locations from 9-10:30 a.m.

Families that have students at the schools may participate in the drive-thru or walk-up type of meal service. For those driving, HUSD asked that all persons stay in their car, and the boxed meals will be provided for each child present. For parents with students at multiple schools, they only need to visit one location.

Cafeteria staff lead by Hamilton K-8 School cafe manager Maryann Labs, right, move boxes of food outside to be handed out at the meal distribution drive-thru event. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo

Each student receives five days of lunches. Families can also pick up their weekly educational packets during the meal distribution event. Face coverings and social distancing are required during the distribution.

Riverside County Public Health has ordered that all residents must wear face coverings when leaving their homes. The coverings do not need to be hospital grade but must cover the nose and mouth. Coverings include bandannas, fabric face masks and neck gaiters.

The district asked that families wear face coverings when visiting the meal distribution centers, for their family’s safety and the safety of staff working the events.

Box lunch orders are filled curbside at the meal distribution drive-thru event. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo

“We are so very grateful for our community family. It’s very helpful, especially in hectic times such as being quarantined at home. Being laid off is definitely hard when you have a family of five. The school works very hard for our babies, I couldn’t ask for a better support system. They offer great nutritional meals and even work so our kiddos stay up to date on their grade level needs,” parent Dixie Fletcher said.

Children need to be present to get their meals. However, exceptions may be made for families that have students who are medically fragile or unable to reasonably transport due to disabilities.

Tesse Benson, mother of four children in prekindergarten, first, seventh and ninth grades, said, “It’s really nice to have access to meals for my kids especially since I can’t get even half of what we normally buy at the grocery store right now.”

Boxes include meals for five days for each student at the meal distribution drive-thru event. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo

The school closures are for precautionary measures, and currently there are no known cases of novel coronavirus in the Hemet Unified School District. These measures are to help slow the progression of the virus and protect students, staff and community.

This closure includes all extra-curricular activities, afterschool programs and district-sponsored events during this time. HUSD said the district understands that school closure affects all families and is committed to addressing the needs of all its students.

“My boys and I say thank you Hamilton K-8, for everything you have to offer our children, from great meals to homework so they don’t fall behind,” Douglas Gilmer said.

Food boxes are inventoried at the meal distribution drive-thru event. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo

Local meal distribution locations include Cottonwood K-8, Hamilton K-8 and Idyllwild schools.

To learn more, visit Hemet Unified School District at https://www.hemetusd.org.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at dsieker@reedermedia.com.