More Than Meal Delivery

Shawna Mills (left) and Larry Vinson (middle) deliver meals to Ava resident Matthew Overcast last Monday. Between deliveries and pickup options, the schools are providing over 6,300 meals per week to students displaced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Michael Boyink/Herald

by Michael Boyink / mike@douglascountyherald.com

Meals and homework.

That was the “Plan B”for the local bus drivers, unable to provide transportation for local students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays buses gather by the school’s kitchen facilities, coolers and trays of meals are assembled and then loaded onto buses.

Meal bundles at Ava Schools wait to be loaded onto a bus. Michael Boyink/Herald

Homework packets are included on Wednesdays, with teachers following up via email, phone calls and online tools like Google Classroom.

In practice, however, the delivery includes more than just meals and homework.

At some stops, the meals came along with greetings and a smile – welcome sights to families sheltering at home.

Hauling school-provided food up the driveway. Photo: Michael Boyink/Herald

At other stops, the food came along with school news.

“So they’ll be back to school on the 27th?,” a parent asked. “No, the entire school year  has been canceled,” replied bus driver Larry Vinson.

And at every stop? The promise of another visit.

“See you on Wednesday,” said Ava School Paraprofessional Shawna Mills with a wave.

According to the Ava R-1 School Facebook page, the school is providing over 6300 meals each week to students displaced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 9th, Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced that the remainder of the school year was canceled, but school services including meal delivery would “continue through the last day of school in each school district as pre-established by the academic calendar approved by their local board of education.”

Governor Parson also worked with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to waive a number of school-related statutes. Those can be found online at dese.mo.gov/communications/coronavirus-covid-19-information.