Mustang discontinues summer food program
Options still available to families through Meals4Kids
By Traci Chapman
Mustang Public School District will suspend a summer meal plan announced in June at the end of this week, officials announced last week.
That suspension will take effect July 9; the district offered the program after making meals available to families throughout the balance of a spring semester that saw classes derailed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Meals initially were offered free of charge through a variety of pick-up and delivery services while school was in session – which post-COVID-19 meant remote learning. The program was scaled back for the summer but was expected to continue through the summer, something discussed during Mustang Board of Education’s June meeting and announced in May.
Meals were made possible by federal Seamless Summer Option waivers, officials said at that time.
The plan apparently changed, however, with a June 30 announcement released by district communications director Kirk Wilson. In a prepared release, the district advised the program would be discontinued effective July 9 – an action not caused by COVID-19, said Jason Pittenger, assistant superintendent of operations.
“It is important to note that this is not in response to any one factor…,” he said in the June 30 release. “We have school starting on Aug. 13, and this will allow us time to prepare for the upcoming school year, restock food and deep clean facilities.”
“We have been proud to offer this service to our community and will now turn our attention to the upcoming school year,” Superintendent Charles Bradley stated in the same press release.
Mustang Board of Education member Jeff Landrith said Monday he was advised the program was discontinued for a few reasons not mentioned in the June 30 news release.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to continue the program due to lack of funding and not enough certified handlers being available over the summer months,” he confirmed in a Tuesday morning email.
Options still available to families
While Mustang would stop the summer food program this week, other resources remain available to families, both in Mustang and in the greater Oklahoma City metropolitan area. Mustang Kiwanis sponsors a local food pantry, open from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. each Saturday and available to those in need. The pantry is located in the back of the old fire station, now housing Mustang Historical Society’s museum, at 470 W. state Highway 152.
The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma also set up summer offerings for children through the age of 17. Each child in participating communities may receive a free meal and snack each weekday through the Meals4Kids program, part of Food for Thought OK. Meals are of a “grab and go” variety and may be picked up by staying in vehicles and following signs to locations offering them. Many sites are open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. but officials suggested anyone wishing to obtain meals check website listings to confirm times before heading out.
Locally, a search revealed several locations available for meal pickup through the Meals4Kids COVID-19 emergency response plan, as of Monday including:
• Horizon Intermediate School, 430 W. Forester Drive
• Mustang Elementary School, 400 S. Mustang Road
• Prairie View Elementary School, 9201 SW 59th Street
• Snow Hill Baptist Church, 11 S. Morgan Road in Tuttle
• Tuttle Christian Church, 33 SW 3rd in Tuttle
• Valley Elementary School, 3001 S. Morgan Road
• Links Apartments, 2004 S. Mustang Road in Yukon
• Trails Elementary School, 12025 SW 15th Street
(This is just a fraction of the pickup locations listed; please note Mustang Public School sites listed here are providing meals through Food for Thought OK/Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, not the district itself.)
More information about these programs may be found online at https://www.regionalfoodbank.org/summermeals and at www.meals4kids.org.