Groups start meal service pickup

Some central kitchen staff in quarantine

YOUNGSTOWN — The city of Youngstown and the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley are teaming up with Youngstown City School District to start a meal service pickup program on Monday.

Meals will not be available today — as previously planned — because of a necessary pause in service from the central kitchen. Some of the kitchen team have been placed in a 14-day quarantine since they might have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus.

“Currently, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19,” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on its website.

Regular safety standards are in place whenever school meals are being prepared, and city schools food service workers wear protective gloves and masks when they prepare food.

School district CEO Justin M. Jennings said: “We are concerned for the health and safety of our workers and encourage an abundance of caution in light of possible infection of the COVID-19 virus. We’ve notified those who were potentially exposed and asked that they quarantine themselves for 14 days. We don’t believe any students or volunteers were exposed but encourage anyone who is feeling ill to quarantine themselves and to follow guidelines available at www.cdc.gov and from local health care providers.”

The central kitchen area is cleaned and sanitized daily and will be ready to collect and pack food again soon. The school district has identified employees to take over some of the central kitchen duties. Anyone working in the food service area will wear gloves, masks and maintain a safe distance from each other.

The school district’s central kitchen will work to pack as many lunches as possible to meet the need to provide 15,000 meals. The Ohio Department of Health also is sending helpers to pack some of the food up into boxes to free up racks to reach the 15,000 meals volunteers need to distribute for a week. Breakfasts are prepackaged and will be ready to serve.

The city is setting up tents and tables at the following sites: in front of McGuffey School, 310 S. Schenley Ave.; Kirkmere, 2851 Kirk Road; Harding, 1903 Cordova Ave.; East High, 474 Bennington Ave.; Taft, 730 E. Avondale Ave.; and Williamson, 58 Williamson Ave.

The modified meal service will be pickup only, and the pickup time is 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at all sites.

Firefighters, police officers, city officials and volunteers will help pack and serve six sites at the curbside to cars or people who have walked to the location. No one will enter the buildings. Specialty food trucks will deliver to the six locations, and the food will be distributed until all meals are gone.

The district discovered its school buses are not well equipped to handle the transportation of food. It is also safer in terms of risking exposure to the virus to provide the curbside pickup.

“We understand that it might be more challenging to get to the food pickup sites, but this is the safest option,” a district spokeswoman said.



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