Elmore County Public Schools CNP

Daniel Dye / The Herald

Elmore County Schools director of professional learning and development Amy Harrison (right) hands food to a parent at Wetumpka Middle School Friday.

On Friday, Elmore County Schools child nutrition specialist Cacyce Davis estimated 3,500 students were given three lunches and three breakfasts intended to last the students through Sunday. This totaled 21,426 meals and included 800 students from Wetumpka Middle School, around 1,000 at Millbrook and 300 to 400 each at Eclectic, Holtville and Redland.

Elmore County Schools superintendent Richard Dennis assisted staff distributing meals at Holtville High School on Friday.

He said traffic was backed up both ways on Highway 111 approaching the school.

“It is requiring tremendous amounts of staging to prep for distribution,” he said via a text message. “I think it is a bigger turnout than expected.”

The turnout was more than some expected and the schools actually ran out of food, so officials are trying to figure out how to ensure that doesn’t happen again.

“Our distributors are used to bringing us food,” Davis said. “They are trying to figure out how to modify what they are getting in, especially our produce suppliers.”

She said the school system’s food supply was replenished Monday.

While the school system’s current staff hasn’t had to plan for a global pandemic, Davis said the nutrition team is used to planning for food distribution beyond the school year.

“We’re one of the few counties where we do not miss serving kids even in summer,” she said. “The day after Memorial Day we start summer feeding. Some systems only have summer feeding for a certain number of weeks. We serve from the first day of summer to the last day of summer.”

She said the only difference is they typically have time to prepare for a summer feeding schedule.

“This time, we had to shut down, close out, do inventory from our school year feeding program and go to a summer program in a day,” she said. “I have a phenomenal staff. They have done everything I have asked them to do.”

School staff and central office administrators also assisted with distributing food.

“Begin at 7 a.m., we began preparing for Monday’s meals,” said Lynnes Justiss, who is the Wetumpka Middle School Title 1 and English-as-a-second-language coordinator. “We prepared 800 meals for Monday with breakfast and lunch as well as fruits and juices and main meals.”

The Elmore County child nutrition program recently announced it will provide food to students through pickup lines. The program is designed to support children who depend on schools for meals while they are closed due to the coronavirus.

The school system will distribute food between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday through April 3 in the parking lots of Coosada Elementary, Eclectic Middle, Holtville High, Redland Elementary and Wetumpka Middle. All children 18 years old and younger are eligible to receive meals at no cost.

“We are just trying to meet the need the best we can,” Davis said.