Nutrition staff count how many lunch and breakfast meals have so far been distributed outside Decatur High School on March 17. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

Nutrition staff count how many lunch and breakfast meals have so far been distributed outside Decatur High School on March 17. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

Federal Way Public Schools provide much-needed meals for students during statewide school closure

More than 6,600 lunches so far distributed to students; free meals offered at various sites in Federal Way through April 24.

Riding up to the high school’s curbside on his bike, a sixth-grader from Lakota Middle School unzips his backpack and tucks a packaged lunch inside, before thanking staff members and beginning his ride home.

Last week, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statewide mandate for the closure of all schools until at least April 24 amid the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

In the wake of abrupt school closures, daily nutrition became a worry for many families who rely on the district’s food services.

Although Federal Way Public Schools closed on Friday after the final bell, the district is committed to ensuring no student goes without meals during the closure period.

As a result, the district is providing “grab-and-go” breakfast and lunch meals for all students ages 18 and under throughout the duration of the mandated closure.

When school is in session on a regular day, the district serves an average of 14,928 meals, including both breakfast and lunch, according to Kassie Swenson, chief of communications for FWPS.

The FWPS district is responsible for approximately 23,000 students, with more than 60% of students receiving free and reduced lunch.

Packaged in brown paper bags, the lunch menu items include sandwiches, fruit, vegetables, juice and/or milk — depending on the daily menu. Breakfast items vary from cereal to mini bagels.

A total of 3,300 breakfasts and 3,328 lunches had been distributed to students by the third day of the schools’ closure on Wednesday, Swenson shared.

Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, each child may receive two free meals per day: one breakfast and one lunch.

The meals are available Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to noon at all four Federal Way high school locations through April 24, with the exception of spring break (April 6-10).

In addition to the grab-and-go meals at high school sites, FWPS is offering nutritional services at various apartment complexes and additional locations throughout the city via the district’s FRED (Fun. Read. Eat. Dream.) bus.

“At a time where so much has been disrupted for scholars and families, we feel it is critically important that we help shore up the safety net by providing nutritious meals for our most vulnerable scholars during this time,” shared FWPS Superintendent Dr. Tammy Campbell.

While the standard grab-and-go meals cannot account for every dietary restriction, the district has addressed a common allergy by not including peanuts in any of the meals. Each meal also lists the included meal items.

The grab-and-go style is designed to reduce any potential of exposure or transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

In addition to handwashing, wearing gloves, and other standard cleaning practices, FWPS has designed this meal service to follow social distancing recommendations, Swenson explained.

Grab-and-go meals are not to be consumed on site, and the packaged meals are set up on tables at designated sites. Students pick up meals directly from the table, rather than from a staff member.

Hand sanitizer and disinfectant is also readily available at each meal distribution site and food preparation locations, Swenson noted.

Just after 11 a.m. outside Decatur High School where the meals were prepped and positioned on Tuesday, a mother placed meals for her children inside her black minivan and expressed her gratitude to nearby staff.

“Thank you for doing this, you guys,” she said. “We really appreciate what you’re doing. I don’t know what we’d do without this.”

Meal pick up times and locations Monday-Friday through April 24

Grab-and-go meals are available at:

  • Decatur High School (DHS) 2800 SW 320th St Federal Way, WA 98023
  • Federal Way High School (FWHS) 30611 16th Ave S Federal Way, WA 98003
  • Thomas Jefferson High School (TJHS) 4248 S 288th St Auburn, WA 98001
  • Todd Beamer High School (TBHS) 35999 16th Ave S Federal Way, WA 98003

Additional Federal Way locations and times are as follows:

  • Camelot Square 3001 S 288th St Federal Way, WA 98003 — 10:45 – 11:50 a.m.
  • Crestview West 27912 Pacific Hwy S Federal Way, WA 98003 — 1:55 – 3:00 p.m.
  • Kitts Corner 1201 S 336th St, Federal Way WA 98003, 10:45 — 11:50 a.m.
  • Uptown Square 1066 S 320th St, Federal Way WA 98003 — 12:20 – 1:25 p.m.
  • Campus View 163 S 340th St, Federal Way WA 98003 — 1:55 – 3:00 p.m.
  • Enchanted Woods 2020 S 360th St Federal Way, WA 98003 — 10:45 – 11:50 a.m.
  • Park 16 35703 16th Ave S Federal Way, WA 98003 — 12:20 – 1:25 p.m.
  • Westway 33400 21st Ave SW Federal Way, WA 98023 — 1:55 – 3:00 p.m.
  • Appian Way 25818 26th Pl S Kent, WA 98032 — 12:20 to 1:25 p.m.

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