Acadia Parish defends decision to suspend school lunch program as state asks districts to keep them

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CROWLEY, La. (KLFY) — The Acadia Parish School Board is defending its decision to halt school grab-and-go meals even as the state’s education officials are asking districts to keep them in operation.

Officials received a note from Acting State Superintendent Beth Scioneaux urging the continuation of the programs, but Acadia Parish Superintendent Scott Richard said the decision to halt meals wasn’t an easy one:

Major contributing factors include: the Governor’s Stay at Home Order on Sunday, lack of recommended protective gear for our school system staff that are preparing and distributing meals, inability to implement the appropriate social distancing recommendations for the provision of the services, food service workers in other parishes working under similar circumstances requiring COVID-19 testing, overall safety for all stakeholders involved in the process of preparing and picking up meals, additional spread of positive cases of COVID-19 into our region, experiencing some challenges in receiving the USDA meal component requirements from food distributors, etc.

Acadia Superintendent Scott M. Richard

Richard assured residents that no food is being wasted while the service is under suspension. He said other options are being explored, but he called the situation “fluid.”

“We appreciate everyone’s understanding and cooperation as we work through things; and, we will be reassessing the ability to provide the service moving forward,” he said.

At the same time, Scioneaux said closure of such programs puts children at risk of hunger.

While you do this, the Governor’s Office staff is partnering with the National Guard’s project management team to develop multiple, unique, alternate solutions for meal delivery moving forward. Data on your current operational structures and the circumstances faced at the local level is needed to make the development of these solutions possible. Our network teams have been tasked with collecting this information from you all, and we appreciate, in advance, your cooperation.

State Acting Superintendent Beth Scioneaux

Schools are being asked to continue serving food through Friday, March 27. Calcasieu Parish also announced the suspension of its school meal programs.

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