Litchfield schools were closed last week, but the district continued to ensure students had school lunch.

As school closures are likely to stretch on for some time because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the district has a plan — a meal program dubbed Dragon Curbside to Go — to ensure students still have a meal, whether they're at the school or not.

“It’s so much fun seeing the faces of the students as they come through the line, and the parents and the gratitude that everybody's giving is great,” Rachael Voight, a food service assistant for Litchfield High School, said on Thursday while she delivered meals to a steady stream of vehicles that lined up near the high school's main entry.

“We miss the kids,” Voight continued. “Everybody does. Teachers, kitchen workers, paraprofessionals and janitors. … It's not the same without them here.”

The curbside pickup of meals — prepared by school lunchroom staff — ran Wednesday through Friday this week, serving more than 300 students per day, according to Superintendent Beckie Simenson.

Meals will not be served next week, March 23-27, which was on the school calendar as spring break. But an expanded service with additional distribution sites will resume beginning March 30, Simenson said in a letter to parents Friday.

Those additional pickup sites will be:

  • Lake Ripley Elementary School bus drop-off area in front of the main entrance;
  • Prairie Park, 1101 S. Meadow Rd., Litchfield;
  • 4 B’z Event Center, 905 W. 5th St., Litchfield, Parking lot area.

In addition, the district is developing plans to deliver meals to students who live in rural areas.

In her letter, Simenson asked parents or guardians to complete a survey for proper planning of the daily meals. The survey can be accessed at http://www.litchfield.k12.mn.us/page/3672.

"Please indicate on the survey by selecting 'I live outside the city limits and I am unable to pick up' and we will have meals delivered to your home," Simenson wrote. "You must give us consent to deliver to your home."

Parents and guardians also can indicate other special circumstances in the survey that prevent them from using the meal service, so that the district could make other arrangements to meet their needs.

Ali Lease, owner of Red Goat Bar & Grill in Watkins, used Dragon Curbside to Go Thursday to deliver to two families who couldn’t get out. One of the families had medical problems and couldn’t drive, while the other family was at work, she said.

“It'd be a total of six kids that I'm bringing food for,” the Litchfield resident said, adding that one was a middle schooler and the other five in elementary.

“I’m really glad that our community has come together to make everything work as best as possible during this time right now,” Lease continued. “It’s weird. No one probably will ever see it. Our kids probably won’t remember it, and older ones will, but the younger ones just think that it's just vacation sitting at home with their parents pretty much.”

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