Austin ISD Offers Curbside Lunches For Students After Schools Are Canceled Due To COVID-19

Austin Independent School District is preparing meals to hand out to students while school is closed amid COVID-19 concerns. 

Isabel Santana and her children pick up food from Dawson Elementary School. Austin ISD offered families the option to pick up lunches after school was canceled over coronavirus concerns.
Credit Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The district announced early Friday that school would be closed after two presumptive positive cases of the coronavirus disease were confirmed in Austin. But many students depend on their schools for daily meals — 53% of students in the district receive free or reduced-price lunch. 

Families picked up meals from AISD Food Services for children under 19 at 14 locations on Friday. The district will also do this Monday through Friday starting March 23 if school remains closed. School is already closed next week for spring break. 

“Children must be present to receive a meal package,” the district said in a statement. “Meals are not available for adults.”

The meals will have protein, grains, fruits and vegetables, according to the district. Milk and compostable cutlery will also be offered. 

The following meal sites will be open noon to 1:30 p.m.:

  • Dobie Middle School
  • Cook Elementary School
  • Burnet MIddle School
  • LBJ Early College High School
  • Govalle Elementary School
  • T.A. Brown Elementary School
  • Eastside Memorial Early College High School
  • Dawson Elementary School
  • Linder Elementary School
  • Crockett Early College High School
  • Pleasant Hill Elementary School
  • Houston Elementary School
  • Akins Early College High School
  • Perez Elementary School

People who want to donate food to families who are going without meals can donate to the Central Texas Food Bank, the district says. 

Milan and Myden Roman choose their lunches at Josephine Houston Elementary.
Credit Michael Minasi / KUT

“I don’t know that as a district that we’ve thought of what it would look like, especially if we’re going to be closed for a longer period of time, what that’s going to do for a lot of our families that have a difficult time purchasing food,” said Griselda Galindo-Vargas, the principal of Brooke Elementary in East Austin, where many students depend on school to get free breakfasts and lunches.   

Gloria Vera-Bedolla, the parent support specialist at Brooke Elementary, said so far the food they have collected to hand out has come from private individuals.  

“It hasn’t come from stores or places like that,” Vera-Bedolla said. “We are, for lack of a better word, hoarding it so we can help our families when the need comes up because everyone is panicking right now. We don’t want to contribute to that.”