With money being tight, Susan Merritt decided to go to a meal distribution site at Boles Junior High School with her children Tuesday.

Merritt is a stay-at-home mom, and her husband, a police officer, had all of his part-time employment at Arlington venues and schools canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak. She said they are trying to save money because her husband’s income decreased.

“It’s going to get tough here in the next month or so,” she said. “So that’s why we’re trying to come to the free meals and take advantage of that.”

Arlington Independent School District is distributing meals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 23 locations to students until March 30, Monday through Friday, said David Lewis, Arlington ISD food and nutrition services director. They will serve children ages 18 or younger and regardless of if they are enrolled in the district or not.

Several departments within Arlington ISD planned the sites and were able to implement them in only three days, Lewis said.

“We want to make sure that every student has access to the meals,” Lewis said.

Tyson Abuata, Merritt’s son, attends Brooks Wester Middle School but the outbreak caused the school to suspend classes until March 30. He said he misses his friends and wants life to go back to normal.

Merritt has two other children, who attend Corey Academy of Fine Arts and Dual Language and she said she has to supervise them while they’re out of school.

The sites distributed about 2,500 meals Monday, Lewis said. As word spreads, he expects that number to get much higher.

Each location is preparing 400 meals every day at each location, said Yuritzda Bustillos, Boles Junior High School food service manager.

At the Boles site, the meal distribution team had served about 225 meals before noon Tuesday, Bustillos said. They’ll keep serving food as long as schools are closed.

“As long we have to do this I’m more than willing,” she said. “I know my team is more than willing to serve our community.”

While planning, Lewis said they had to make sure there wasn’t any large congregation of people. There are only 10 employees at each site distributing meals while parents wait in a drive-thru pick up line, Lewis said.

“You never imagine a disaster but you know that the role is making sure that the children of the community are fed,” he said.



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