Shelby County Schools will no longer provide students working from home due to coronavirus with free lunches from pick-up locations, halting the meal program after an employee from the district’s Central Nutrition Center tested positive for the virus.
The plan was designed to keep students in food insecure households fed during the length of the school district’s closure, at least until April 6. Many depend on those meals for nutrition, and on Monday, some 15,000 children were supposed to pick up pre-packaged lunch at one of 60 sites across the county.
Superintendent Joris Ray suspended the feeding program out of an “abundance of caution.”
Ray is currently in talks with other officials to find an alternative to feed students.
“We are deeply saddened by this development,” Ray said at a press briefing Friday. "Nevertheless, Memphis and Shelby County, we cannot allow our children to go hungry.”
A district spokesperson said the employee who tested positive was not involved in food prep but worked at the facility.
It is unclear how many meals had already been prepared for Monday and what will happen to them.
About one in five Shelby County children come from a food insecure home.
The Mid-South food bank is offering 14-day boxes with non-perishable items at food pantries across the county.