With schools closed for the next month, DPS is finding new ways to ensure kids reliant on free school lunches are still getting fed. 

On March 23, Governor Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina public schools would remain closed through May 15, in an effort to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19. 

At the beginning of the 2019 school year, Durham County had 33,001 students enrolled across 53 schools. Many families in the school system were previously enrolled in free lunch programs and the closure puts them in a precarious position.

And as unemployment numbers grow, so do food insecurities. 

Beginning Thursday, April 16, a new meal support program will provide free breakfasts and lunches at school sites across Durham County. The program—a partnership between Durham Public Schools, Durham County Government, the Durham Public Schools Foundation, and Durham FEAST, a coalition of local nonprofits and restaurants—will offer meals prepared by Durham restaurants alongside pantry ingredients, casseroles, and other food staples. 

Durham FEAST is a new initiative with a new kind of supply chain: Durham restaurants are able to use federal school meal funding to source from local farms and prepare meals for school families. The initiative also helps restaurants keep their doors open. Numerous restauranteurs, including chef Andrea Reusing of Lantern and The Durham, are helping to champion it. 

With new initiative Durham FEAST, local restaurants are able to use federal school meals funding to source from local farms and prepare meals for school families. Additional produce and shelf-stable items are sourced from community partnerships and donations. 

A full list of “Durham FEAST” pick-up sites can be found here. You can learn more about volunteering at school pick-up sites here

Contact deputy arts and culture editor Sarah Edwards at sedwards@indyweek.com.

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