Schools across Mississippi remain closed to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. But as MPB's Kobee Vance reports school closures mean children from low-income families might go without meals.
At Richland Upper Elementary, administrators from southern Rankin County are handing out meals to families. The meals cover breakfast and lunch and are free to kids under 18. Lindsay Starbuck is the Principal at Richland Upper Elementary.
"We worry about whether they ate breakfast and lunch and all those things. As a parent myself, I have to continue working, so I depend on the school system to make sure my kid has breakfast and lunch, so of course, this puts all of our parents I'm sure in some kind of worry. So this is just to take some of that worry off of those parents."
Approximately 70% of Mississippi public school students are eligible for free and reduced lunch, and many school districts are working to make sure children get proper nutrition during this outbreak.
In the kitchen, cafeteria workers have been preparing meals since 8:00 am. In two hours, they handed out 190 meals.
Dozens of cars are lined up outside as families are picking grab and go meals. Patricia Cheatwood of Pearl is with her daughter and grandchildren as they pick up four bags of food. She says she relies on the school meal program to help feed her family.
"I think this is very important. I'm grateful that they're looking after my grandkids as well as all the other kids, and I think, I have nothing but respect for Rankin County."
Also picking up meals for her children is Kendra King of Richland. As her kids went through their bags of food, King was holding back tears of gratitude
"As a mother, I feel I should be more supportive, but again, like I said it helps me. I don't have no food in my house, so it helps me. Thank you so much."
The Mississippi Department of Education has secured two waivers from the federal government that allows schools to serve meals while closed. It's still not known when students will be returning to classrooms.