Coronavirus means school food is free across the U.S. What if it stayed that way?
November 30, 2020
YAKIMA, Wash. - Tracy Renecker has been working almost nonstop since the coronavirus pandemic set in. A kitchen manager with the 16,000-student school district serving this central Washington city, Renecker has been ordering ingredients, packing entrees and sides, and filling grocery sacks to build the five-breakfast, five-lunch kits passed out at the drive-up distribution point outside Washington Middle School, where she works.
Renecker knows what the bags of cut vegetables, single-serve cereal boxes and heat-and-eat bowls mean to parents picking them up each week. They are a lifeline to families, including her own. The school meal program "helps to stretch our money," said Renecker, a former nursing assistant raising a 6-year-old and a 13-year-old in Yakima.
"I was a hungry child at one point, and I would hate to see any child go hungry," she said. "I know they can't learn when they're worried about when they're going to be fed."