Meal program continues for Huntsville City students after school system learns of positive COVID-19 case

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Huntsville City Schools (HCS) announced Tuesday that students will still be able to receive free meals after a person associated with Lakewood Elementary tested positive for COVID-19.

Henry Ward, the Child Nutrition Program Director for Huntsville City Schools, said it was important to find a way to continue the food service program.

“Food insecurity occurs everywhere and what that is is when families and individuals, period, do not have access to food,” said Ward. “So to combat that, this is one of the things we do is the summer food service program.”

The COVID-19 pandemic made the summer meal service program even more needed in the community with more families out of work.

So, the school says when they learned of the positive test late Monday night, the HCS Facilities team was sent to Lakewood to clean.

“The Huntsville City School custodian staff came out, they sanitized and cleaned the entire building in areas which includes the kitchen, in which in turn made it safe for us to be able to come back into the building to provide our food service to our participants,” said Ward.

Even with a freshly cleaned building, parents might still feel concerned.

“I think their biggest concern would be if the food that they were getting potentially would maybe have the virus, or employees would in turn potentially spread the virus, but we don’t have that issue,” said Ward.

The HCS Health Services Department said that determined individuals set to be on campus Tuesday, including the staff responsible for the Summer Meal Service Program, were not exposed to the impacted person.

“Our CNP staff was not in contact with that individual and in turn, we do take the necessary precautions,” said Ward. “All of our staff members wear PPE, or personal protective equipment, which includes masks and disposable gloves so we can still provide food to our participants in a very safe and expedient manner.”

While they normally end the food program six weeks into the summer, HCS extended it to help hurting families. They are now on the eighth week.

The meals are served from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Children receive breakfasts and lunches served together. The school says social distancing will be practiced. Students may walk or ride with their families to receive meals, according to HCS.

The school also invites families to visit the district’s other meal service site at Chaffee Elementary located at 7900 Whittier Road.

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