With Wisconsin schools closed, who will help feed the students?

Coronavirus

Food pantries anticipate heavier traffic as school closures leave food-insecure families without free and reduced lunch

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — At Paul’s Pantry, the threat of the Coronavirus has already sparked change. And with Governor Evers’ order to close K-12 schools across Wisconsin, the call to serve has become increasingly important.

“We’re doing extra sanitation, cleaning all of the different surfaces and door handles,” Craig Robbins, Executive Director at Paul’s Pantry said.

They’re also staggering clients to avoid crowds in the waiting room, but those seats might start to fill up with the closure of all public and private schools.

According to Green Bay Area Public Schools Officials, some families rely on the free and reduced lunch program for three meals a day. Local 5 asked school officials if they have a plan for those families in the event the district would close.

A district official said Friday morning that meetings were underway and a plan to serve those students was in the works. In the meantime, Paul’s Pantry is ready to help.

“We are 100-percent prepared for an increase in numbers of people coming in,” Robbins said.

He added that many of the pantry’s clients with children also take part in their school districts’ lunch program. “We may see a frequency in how often people are needing to come,” he said.

Even beyond schools, Robbins foresees the virus causing a ripple effect that could lead to more people in need of assistance.

“People that work concession stands and people setting up for these large events, they are all going to be without a paycheck,” he said.

The pantry has dealt with crisis before and is ready to help anyone in need.

“We’ve had plans in place for years,” Robbins explained.

Paul’s Pantry is even prepared to continue to provide for clients if the pandemic forces the shopping area of the pantry to close.

“We have a plan in to do a drive-thru grocery service,” Robbins said. “We’ll hand out food right through the front door.”

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