DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Coronavirus concerns have forced many schools to close and as a result, caused some students to miss meals. However, Dayton Public Schools has implemented an efficient way to make sure students are still eating nutritious meals at home.
The district recently purchased a lidding machine to package healthy meals on an assembly line. Director for nutrition services at DPS, Cathie DeFehr, said competition for safe and convenient foods led the district to invest in the technology.
“When we first started sending meals home with students in spring, everything that we purchased had to be individually wrapped, ” said DeFehr. “It would be a wrapped sandwich, maybe a wrapped taco, things like that. And we found that we had a lot of trouble purchasing items that were wrapped because all of a sudden there was a real need for them all across the nation, essentially.”
With some students’ primary source of food being school meals, DeFehr said it was important to provide kids with fulfilling food options while they’re learning from home.
“Another other reason that we purchased this lidding machine to produce our own meals was in order to help meet our requirements under the National School Lunch Program. And under that, we have to have a legume every week and you know, a lot of fruits and vegetables. All of those items are really hard to purchase individually wrapped.”
With the help of the new machine, 26 meals are able to be prepared within a minute. Those meals are then distributed to more than 2,000 families who are signed up to receive them. Since the start of the school year, the district has distributed more than 400,000 altogether.
“Any DPS student qualifies for meals,” DeFehr said. “So we would encourage either they or their parents to go online and sign up for the meals. You can find it under the restart plan, just follow the links. And if that’s difficult for anyone, you can also call the Nutrition Services Office at 937-542-3950.
All DPS students are also eligible to receive pandemic EBT food assistance. The district is reminding families to update their addresses so those benefits are mailed to the correct location. Families can update their addresses with the district by calling 937-542-5555. Information on how to sign up for P-EBT can be found here.