DOWNINGTOWN, PA — Not only is Downingtown Area School District (DASD) providing online education to more than 13,000 students during the government-mandated closure, it is now supporting its community by offering meals to all area children, ages 0 – 18.
Prior to the closure, DASD provided approximately 930 daily meals, including breakfast and lunch, to students on the district’s free and reduced meal plan.
Beginning March 16, Aramark, DASD’s food services provider, continued to assist the district with food distribution for those students, coordinating a drive-through, socially-distant service at Downingtown High School West.
As the closure continued and more residents began to experience financial hardships related to the stay-at-home order, DASD recognized the need to do more.
Business Manager David Matyas explained, “Due to DASD’s socioeconomic level, we did not qualify for an open meal plan program, which would have allowed us to provide free meals to all children in our area.
Instead, we were restricted to serving just those students who were already on our free and reduced-price meal plan.
Thanks to a USDA waiver that created flexibility in eligibility, we were able to apply and be approved to serve meals to all children ages 0 – 18. We hope this new program will ease some of the concerns facing our community during this international crisis.”
According to Aramark’s General Manger Will Van Patter, the program, whose expanded service began April 28, has had an excellent start. “When we were serving just those students on the free and reduced meal plan, we were providing an average of 140 meals a day. On our first day of the expanded plan, we handed out 599 bags; that is nearly 3600 meals! I’m grateful that we are able to contribute to our community and support those in need.”
DASD’s meal services are provided on Tuesday’s and Friday’s from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Downingtown High School West (445 Manor Ave. Downingtown, PA 19335; please use Manor Ave entrance).
Tuesday’s bags will contain a three-day supply of breakfasts and lunches per child, and Friday’s bags will include a four-day supply of breakfasts and lunches per child.
There is no need to preregister or provide identification. If you would like to participate in the program but are unable to make the distribution times, please contact the district at [email protected].
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