MISSOULA — School districts across the state have been fine-tuning the best way to get school work to their students since the mandatory school closures.
One Missoula school district has also found a unique way to get their free and low-income lunch students two meals a day.
Immediately following the news that all Montana schools would be closed to students indefinitely, Hellgate Elementary began working on a plan to make sure their most at need students had breakfast and lunch while doing their school work at home.
“We came up with one in partnership with Hellgate Transportation to actually institute a door-to-door service for between 500-600 children that are free or reduced lunch kids that without our support might not have those meals during the course of a day," Hellgate Elementary Superintendent, Doug Reisig said.
He told MTN News the plan is unique in Missoula and says they do it because their elementary students have very little opportunity to travel to a central food distribution site. The plan has included a reshuffling of staff resources.
“Paraprofessionals are hired during the year to actually work with kids in teaching capacities, well the kids aren’t here right now so we’ve restructured their duties to help deliver food to those kids and make contact with those children.” Reisig said.
Under normal circumstances, Hellgate Elementary would not qualify to provide this service because the school population of those that qualify for free and reduced lunches is below the mandatory number. He says it took the help of Washington to get this done.
“I have to express my deep appreciation for Senator Daines and Senator Tester who worked so very hard to get the waiver in place for food service programs for us to be able to provide this for our kids," Reisig said.
He added it feels good knowing his student’s needs are being met, and that they will continue to provide this service through the school year and possibly even into the summer.
Reisig says he's received overwhelming gratitude from the families of students receiving the school's daily meals.