Joplin Schools distribute 59,000 meals in two weeks to students

JOPLIN, Mo. – The Joplin School District has been handing out meals for the past two weeks to students in the community to ensure they get fed while schools are closed. But just how many meals have they handed out? And how are they funding the program? We’ve got the answers.

These are just a few photos of what the Joplin Schools meals program has looked like over the past couple of weeks. Food Service Director Rick Kenkel lays out what was a typical week for the district. “We might do right around 15,000 lunches and 8,000 breakfasts, so you add those two together, 23, 24,000 meals in one given week, and we’re doing seven days’ worth of feeding in five days.”

However, in these past two weeks, they’ve passed out 59,000 meals. The good news is, the district, doesn’t have to pay for it. “So the Department of Health and Senior Services is supporting financially, the program as it is today.”

Kenkel says the department has a summer lunch program that helps districts offer meals to students in need during the summer months. But now, because of the COVID-19 crisis, they’ve extended that program, providing funding to districts since March. “We will see some reimbursement funding from the Department of Health and Senior Services which will not require the district to support any funds into the feeding program.”

In addition to that, Thursday’s lunch pickup will have a special surprise for the kids. “Paul Bloomberg from parks and rec had called a couple of days ago and indicated he had 10,000 Easter eggs stuffed and ready to go, didn’t know what to do with them since they cancelled their Easter egg hunt.”

And Kenkel wants to remind everyone – school was originally planned to be out on Friday – so there will not be any meals handed out then, instead, they’ll be handed out at Thursday’s pickup.

Kenkel says at this time all student meal accounts are frozen and the district is not currently collecting on past due bills.