Benson schools supplying food to students

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Benson area youth have been taking advantage of free meals being dropped off each day at various sites in Benson and the surrounding area.  All they have to do is stop by one of the convenient meal sites and pick up the meals each morning at the designated time.

The USDA Meal Program is for anyone 18 years old and under.  They do not have to live in the school district, or attend Benson Schools to participate.  Everyone qualifies for the program as long as they are 18 years or younger.  Each day, a breakfast and lunch is delivered.

The meal program encourages people to register each day, but they can also just show up since extra meals are prepared at each site, just in case.

“We ask that people either send in the form that has been sent out a couple of times, or they can fill out the form online at the Benson Schools’ website, or they can call the school office at 843-2710 or the Food Service at 320-842-2702 to register and we’ll even help them with the process,” said Benson Schools’ Food Service Director Jeanine Bowman.  “Once they’ve signed up, they do not need to sign up again.  It just helps our staff know how many meals to prepare.”

According to Bowman and Benson Schools’ Superintendent Dennis Laumeyer, about 200 area youth took advantage of the free meals the first day last Wednesday, but that number increased to at least 450 meals served Thursday, and to about 600 meals, Friday.

“The community has been very supportive of this program and we have heard from a lot of appreciative parents,” Bowman said.  “We are also feeding all our Discovery Kids, along with the COVID-19 daycare kids.”

Meal drop-off times are from 10:30-11 a.m. each day at Nevada Square/Northside School; Running’s parking lot; McKinney’s parking lot; and Super Valu parking lot; from 11-11:30 a.m. at Benson High School (north side of building); and from 11:30 a.m.-noon each day at Brink’s parking lot in Swift Falls; St. Malachy Hall in Clontarf; Danvers City Hall; Church in the Grove parking lot; and DeGraff Municipal parking lot.

“Benson Schools’ staff have been outstanding getting meals out to our children,” Supt. Dennis Laumeyer said.  “People have been very appreciative of the program and that the school is delivering meals to drop-off sites throughout the district and right to the door for homebound families that need that service.”

According to Bowman, there are about eight current food service staff helping out with making and preparing the meals for the students, along with about 15 support staff (paras) and about nine from the transportation department.

“We start preparing the meals about 6 a.m. each day and start bagging the meals about 8:30 a.m.,” Bowman said.  “The vans come about 10 a.m. to load the meals and we are at the first drop-off sites by 10:30 a.m.”

If you have any questions about this program, you can call the school at 843-2710 or the Food Service Department at 320-842-2702.  “For health reasons, the school is open only to staff and essential outside staff,” Supt. Laumeyer said.

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