HOULKA • On Monday, March 23, the Chickasaw School District Child Nutrition Program began providing carry-out lunch and snacks for all students and children ages 1 to 18 at no charge.

That program, which began Monday, is in addition to efforts by a combination of groups which started last week to distribute food. Both programs’ goal is to insure that some Chickasaw School District families get nutritious food during the unexpected school outage triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

State schools were dismissed earlier this month after spring break in connection with the coronavirus. School is slated to resume Tuesday, April 21.

Under the program which began Monday, meals may be picked up at the high school Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

“Please refrigerate the meal within two hours of receiving it or throw it away. Please throw away a refrigerated meal if not consumed within 72 hours,” District Superintendent Betsy Collums said Friday.

She said the district will prepare 100 meals the first day of the program, “and see how it goes from there.”

She said the meals will consist of various items. “They may be chips and apples and sandwiches and milk. Whatever they are, they’ll have all the required components for a regular school lunch,” she said.

She hopes the program will continue until school resumes in April, but plans are “day to day. We don’t know what the future holds,” she said.

Under the second program, “FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), and several area churches and community members have delivered boxes of non-perishable food items to 10-12 families this week,” she said Wednesday afternoon, March 18.

Plans are for those deliveries to continue until school resumes in April.

The school district had some involvement in last week’s food delivery program through the Houlka Attendance Center FCA chapter, and the FCA-sponsored Back Pack Buddies Program, which operates at the school.

Last November, the school district accepted a $500 donation from BancorpSouth to Fellowship of Christian Athletes for the Backpack Buddies Program.

Backpack Buddies food programs provide nutritious, non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food to children to ensure they get enough food on weekends and holidays to avoid hunger when they can’t depend on school meals.

The goal is to provide youngsters with the nutrients they need when they’re away from school, so they show up on Monday morning healthy and ready to learn, school officials said.

The foodstuffs delivered last week were provided by the individuals and groups delivering them. No school foodstuffs were involved. They were delivered by private vehicle; no school vehicles were used, the superintendent said.

Foodstuffs delivered include cereals, crackers, and other items. The quantities delivered are enough to last for several days to a week, depending on the family’s size and how families ration the food.

It’s not the first time the system has been used.

FCA, churches and community members have combined to make similar deliveries during holidays and other times when school is not in session, Dr. Collums said.

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