North Texas School Districts Lay Out Plans to Feed Kids Safely

School districts are reinventing how they do lunch as they continue to navigate the pandemic

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Nutrition directors are drawing up different contingency plans to feed children so that workers are prepared.

NBC 5 checked in with several school districts across North Texas to get their plans as they work to make sure kids are safely getting their nutrients.

When kids do return to in-person learning, that familiar, busy cafeteria that North Texas kids are familiar with will look a lot different. Many will now have to look forward to eating breakfast and lunch while socially distanced.

A face-to-face reality is still weeks away for many of our North Texas districts. More of the take-home meals that districts have adapted to this past spring and over the summer to replace their conventional foodservice programs will continue, for now.

However, in our area’s biggest school district, Dallas ISD, has already laid out a plan for in-person lunches.

Tuesday, Sept. 8 is the first day of school for DISD, and at this time, the district plans to offer both virtual and face-to-face learning when school starts. That means, there will be designated areas that will be utilized for lunch. These areas could include the cafeteria, the library, or other large areas within the school building, a spokesman told NBC 5.

DISD teachers will monitor students traveling to and from the cafeteria, and in the hallways to promote social distancing. Cafeteria capacity will be based on current guidelines. The district is providing plexiglass dividers for the cafeteria space. Hand sanitizing stations will be available at entrances and exits of the cafeteria.

Plano ISD taking a very similar approach to DISD. when it comes to in-person lunches. See their full school lunch breakdown here.

Meanwhile, Fort Worth ISD is sticking to their spring meal curbside plan. Pick up service will be Mondays and Thursdays, 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. with the exception of the first week of school which will begin online only for the first four weeks starting Sept. 8. Once a decision is made on learning options after those first four weeks, the meal pick up times for FWISD may change, a spokesman said.

For Arlington ISD, students will get basically what they got before the pandemic, but this time with a few more options. Chef Carl offered some tips and tricks for preparing pick up breakfast and lunches at home in a video that is available on the district’s website.

There will be 30 distribution sites set up across Arlington ISD.

“The feedback that we received in the spring was extremely positive. We served over 2 million meals since the spring, and so we certainly know that the distribution works, and the feedback that we have received from the community has been extremely positive,” said David Lewis, Arlington ISD’s Dir. of Food and Nutrition Services.

“Everything is made to be served at home. Obviously they’ll start getting a lot more prepared meals, hot meals, and really get those favorites that they have. So the tamales, the baked ziti, the baked lasagnas. We’re going to be doing a lot more of those, so they can look forward to some of their favorite items,” said Lewis. “The foodservice team here in Arlington is passionate about feeding kids and so they love to see the students, and the students certainly show that reflection back, and so they’re going to see a very enthusiastic team that is ready to serve.”

We also checked in with Denton and Northwest ISDs. Both districts tell NBC 5 they are still working on finalizing exactly how they plan to serve lunch when school starts. We’re told there are several options on the table.

We will continue to update the plans, and add more area districts lunch plans as they finalize them.

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