National Guard delivers food to Appo families
In an effort to reach more families, Appoquinimink School District has partnered with the Delaware National Guard to deliver meals to children as part of their free student meal distribution. Deliveries began April 6.
The National Guard will travel — wearing protective gear in their camouflaged vehicles — into four neighborhoods where at least half the population of school-aged kids qualify for the free or reduced price meals.
Since schools closed in March, Appo has operated ‘Grab-N-Go’ for children ages 1-18. Janice VanderDecker, head of school nutrition, said in an announcement they served 250 in the first week. As of the last week of March, they reached nearly 900 children.
Appo will continue in-person meal pickup at Louis L. Redding Middle School Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
“By adding neighborhood distribution in some of our neediest communities, we feel certain that the number will climb over 1,000 this week. In a district of just over 12,300 students, that’s a telling sign about the effect of this crisis,” VanderDecker said.
Four National Guard members will deliver food Mondays and Wednesdays prepared by the district’s nutrition staff, Appo public information officer Lilian Miles said. They will bring two lunches and two breakfasts Mondays and three Wednesdays.
Deliveries are made in Villagebrook mobile home park, Hampstead Court Apartments, Fairfield Commons and Frederick Lodge mobile home park.
Superintendent Matt Burrows said the district wants to ensure kids are getting fed, but without school buses and drivers, it has been a test of resourcefulness.
“The student meal program provides a critical lifeline for food-insecure families. With businesses shuttered [by the coronavirus], jobs have disappeared, and so has the income families need to put food on the table,” he said.
Burrows said schools often rely on older people to work in food service and as bus drivers, but those are the same individuals who are at a heightened risk of contracting the virus, which has created a worker supply problem.
“That’s why we asked the National Guard to provide additional resources —manpower and transportation – to help us make sure families have the nutritional support they need to make it through this crisis,” he said. “It’s inspiring to know that there are thousands of dedicated men and women in the Delaware National Guard who are ready to come to the aid of those in the community who are most in need.
Maj. Gen. Michael Berry, DNG adjutant general, said their guardsmen and women are honored to support their community.
“Through extensive emergency preparedness training, the brave men and women in the Delaware National Guard stand ready to serve above and beyond their traditional military duties,” Berry said.