Donors help provide hundreds of free lunches to Raytown children

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Raytown’s mayor appealed to the community Monday for donations to provide free lunches to students who are out of school.

So social groups worked together at the Olive Center to create about 600 meals for children on Monday.

Raytown schools were unable to feed children who would ordinarily get a free lunch on Monday because one of its food handlers tested positive for COVID-19.

That’s why Raytown’s mayor sent out a plea via social media for donations to the Raytown Emergency Assistance Program to pay for hundreds of bag lunches.

“We got about 350 meals today for lunches,” said Michael Watson, executive director of REAP. “In a perfect world we would like about 800 to 1,000 but we will do what we can today and work with the school district and officials, and Dr. Alan Markley until they get back online.”

TAGS, which stands for teach, assist, guide and shower with humanity, buys pre-packaged foods and expects to serve hundreds more meals by the end of the week.

“It’s not a lack of people,” said Denyelle Hoffman of the TAGS Free Lunch KC program. “It’s not a lack of food being available. It’s just a lack of funding that we need. But we have the manpower and the people to do it. We have a few different locations that we can spread out too, so we can make sure to keep everyone safe. Keep our social distancing.”

Every $2 donation pays for one lunch in this program. The group says it has been struggling to buy in bulk because retailers like Sam’s Club and Costco now have limits on how much food can be purchased at one time.

But a collaboration of organizations is committed to the effort to make sure volunteers can continue to provide free lunches through the summer, if necessary.

Students from Kansas City Public Schools and the Providence School of the Arts also receive lunches from this program.

Tonganoxie, Kansas, schools also suspended its lunch program Monday after one of its food handlers tested positive for the coronavirus. The superintendent said he hopes to resume food service in two weeks.

UPDATE: Raytown Schools announced Monday night that, with the help of several neighboring school districts, they will be able to provide meals to students starting Tuesday.

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