Buses were rolling all across Christian County Wednesday, but they weren’t filled with students. Instead, each seat was occupied by boxes of freshly packed breakfast and lunch.
Sixty-six-year-old S.R. Hollowell and another bus driver Reed Rushing said driving lunches is a new task, but they’re taking it in stride.
“This is something we’ve not done before, but it’s part of our job,” said Hollowell, who has been driving buses for 42 years. “I think it’s a good thing because a lot of these kids need this food.”
In Christian County, most students qualify for free and reduced lunch, according to Superintendent Mary Ann Gemmill. For that reason, CCPS is providing breakfast and lunch every week day that schools remain closed due to the new coronavirus disease 2019.
Every Christian County public school is open serving lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on weekdays through April 2.
Wednesday, delivery started for sites in LaFayette, Oak Grove, Lacey and Fairview. Pickup at those locations is from 11 a.m. to noon each weekday.
A team of volunteers, bus drivers and lunch ladies at Freedom Elementary packed 473 bags filled with milk cartons, cereal, sandwiches and chips.
As the rain began pour, boxes were wheeled out on carts and assembly-lined up to the bus drivers.
Rushing, who has been driving buses for 34 years, said the look on the parents’ faces Wednesday was “rewarding.”
“You can tell that they’re thankful,” he said.
South Christian Elementary School teacher’s aide Amelia McIntosh met Rushing and Hollowell at one of three stops in Oak Grove. She and another woman helped hand out bags to parents as the cars rolled up to the bus door.
“When we’re in school, every kid gets free lunch and breakfast,” she said. “Some of the kids, you know come from not having a lot — I’ve had kids tell me they didn’t have anything to eat last night or that they were denied food.
“So it’s rewarding that I can come out here for the time that we’re giving food out, and say ‘here’s your food,’ ” she said.
Kerri DeGreef, a mom of four in Oak Grove, said although she stocked up on food before the store shelves got scarce, the meals will help keep her kids fed.
“It helps take a lot of stress off of all of us,” she said. “It ensures that the kids will have a healthy lunch where maybe we might not be able to get the supplies we need.”
DeGreef said her husband is a civilian contractor overseas who is on lock down, and she’s currently juggling her job at a local store while keeping her children caught up on schoolwork at home.
“It’s stressful, but I still have to maintain,” she said. “I have four of my own — one goes to Hoptown Middle and three go to South Christian — and I’m helping out two who also go to South Christian.
“We have a set time for lunches, breakfast and dinner,” she said. “The kids have been getting up and doing (their schoolwork) on their own. I was just telling them this morning how proud I was of them.”
When hearing news about the spreading virus, DeGreef said she’s reassuring her children that “as long as we do what they told us — stay at home, keep our hands washed — we’re gonna be fine.”
Hollowell said he’s counting it as a blessing.
“You never know what God has in store for you each day; you just take it,” he said. “You just do the procedures — pray and wash your hands and ask God to take care of you.”
As far as driving lunches instead of kids, Hollowell laughed and said, “I don’t have to stop to say, ‘Calm the noise down.’ ”