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Meals for vulnerable students resume

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With the close of spring break, the Vancouver School District has begun again offering meals to vulnerable students.

At more than 50 school sites this week, about 3,000 students will have access to lunch meals. These students previously received meals while at school for free. With the suspension of in-class instruction, packaged lunches are now provided and handed out by school staff.

Staff at schools are in the process of contacting eligible families and students to provide details about pick up, including times and locations. Details shared will also include information about doing so safely, such as maintaining physical distance.

At Strathcona Elementary, students and parents are appreciative of being able to access a 'to go' lunch. "They are greeted by welcoming and smiling staff who have implemented multiple precautions and physical distancing measures to ensure the health and safety of students, staff, and family members while providing a healthy meal," explains Jason Eng, principal at the school.

Board Chair Janet Fraser also highlights the importance of this work to ensure students who rely on school meals are still able to access them "We know that for some VSB families the lunch programs at their children's school are critical and so it's essential that the district continues to safely provide these free meals," says Fraser.

With strong teamwork at play, staff at schools are working collaboratively to distribute the food. School Parent Advisory Councils (PACs) support and assistance has helped this work. And, although each site is different, distribution teams include staff such as cafeteria workers, supervision aides, School and Student Support Assistants (SSAs), Indigenous workers and coordinators with Community Schools Teams working with school administrators.

"We continue to be proud of the hard work of our local members, working with various staff members to provide meals to vulnerable children during this time," says Tim Chester, International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) 963 president.

This work is paramount as the District continues to support students and their families throughout the COVID-19 response.

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