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BENSON — Penny Martin, the cafeteria manager at Meadow School, arrived at work at 7:30 a.m. last Wednesday to begin prepping lunch and breakfast for students.
But no students would pass through her cafeteria that day. Instead, they would be in cars that would line up near the cafeteria to receive grab-go-meals.
That’s the new normal in Johnston County as students stay at home amid the coronavirus threat.
But whether in school or at home, children need to eat, Martin said. “In this area, the need is extreme for kids that maybe don’t have to access to the food in their home,” she said during a slight pause in her day. “I hope that they’re able to get here and get a meal.”
Last Wednesday, Johnston began serving grab-and-go meals at 13 schools. By the end of the week, the school system had started delivering meals to a total of 13 more sites in 11 communities.
“It’s neighbors helping neighbors,” said Martin, whose school prepared 150 barbecue lunches and another 150 breakfasts on the first day of grab-and-go meals.
Sonya Grice, principal of Meadow School, applauded her staff for helping to feed students while they’re out of school. “I think in a time of everyone being anxious and things being unpredictable, it just helps alleviate a piece of the worry knowing our students can be fed,” she said.
“As educators, we’re very passionate about the well-being of our students, whether they’re inside the school building or outside the community,” Grice added. “We still want to support them and help take care of them.”
And care for them the school did. By 11:30 a.m. last Wednesday, cars had begun lining up for the grab-and-go meals.
“I’m glad we’re able to reach students even though they’re not inside the school building during these weeks,” Grice said.
The following schools in Johnston are serving grab-and-go meals from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. weekdays:
• Benson Middle.
• Clayton Middle.
• Cooper Academy.
• Corinth-Holders Elementary.
• Four Oaks Elementary.
• Meadow Elementary.
• North Johnston Middle.
• Pine Level Elementary.
• Princeton Elementary.
• Selma Elementary.
• Smithfield-Selma High.
• West Clayton Elementary.
• West Smithfield Elementary.
Johnston schools are delivering lunch and breakfast to the following community sites. Pickup is available from noon to 12:45 p.m. weekedays starting March 20.
Benson — Entrance to P.K. Vyas Community Park near East Mann Street and Lee Street.
Clayton — Champion Street and Falcon Court; Alta Mobile Home Park at Tiffany Circle and Vogue Street.
Corinth-Holders community — Pace Mobile Home Park.
Four Oaks — Twin Oaks Apartments at Temple Street and Allen Court.
McGee’s Crossroads — Old Roberts Road and Barberry Drive.
Meadow community — Double B Trail and Old Brook Trail.
Micro — Beulah in the Pines Mobile Home Park.
Pine Level Area — Country Estates Mobile Home Park
Princeton — Braswell Mobile Home Park.
Selma — Hunting Drive and Mallard Court; Lizzie Mill Road and Redwood Drive.
Smithfield — Swift Creek Road and Willow Lane.