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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

For Some Families, Free Meal Pickups At School Are A Lifeline

With classes canceled because of the coronavirus scare, schools around the Charlotte region began handing out free take-home meals Tuesday, hoping to plug the gap for families that rely on school food programs. 

At North Mecklenburg High School, a steady stream of students and parents stopped by the cafeteria door over two hours Tuesday to pick up chicken Caesar salad lunches and breakfast packs of granola, yogurt, and fresh fruit.

Jacquelyn Gates Singleton left with a cardboard boxful for the eight children in her blended family.

"My concern was, 'How am I gonna feed my kids?'" she said. "Not catching coronavirus, but how will we survive, just from feeding them? So I'm super grateful for the community, CMS, everyone that's pulling together."

For some kids, free breakfast and lunch at school makes the difference in whether or not they go hungry. Now that schools are shut down statewide, school districts in Gaston, Union, Cabarrus and Mecklenburg counties all opened up "grab-and-go” meal distribution sites.  Most are operating for a couple of hours at midday. 

CMS said it served 9,310 breakfast and 9,451 lunches in its grab-and-go meal program Tuesday.

"I'm glad they're doing this, because they're helping a lot of people, and families that need help. You know, because a lot of kids and young adults depend on food from here, from school," said one North Meck High School student who didn't want to give his name.  

CMS has food pickup sites at about 70 schools. They're open to anyone 18 years old or younger. Meanwhile, some churches and community organizations are chipping in, too, with their own dine-in or takeout food services.