Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Harrisburg school district, city police team to ensure food access for students

Harrisburg’s Benjamin Franklin School, one of the meal pick-up locations

On Monday, all K-12 Pennsylvania schools closed for 10 business days in accordance with Gov. Tom Wolf’s mandate during the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic.

As a result, the Harrisburg school district will be closed through at least March 27.

But it’s not just classroom instruction that students will miss, as they regularly receive free breakfasts and lunches at school, as well. The district, however, is ensuring that students continue to be fed, even with the epidemic.

“We are trying to put food into our families’ hands,” Acting Superintendent Chris Celmer said.

The school district is giving free grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches to enrolled students. Resources come through their collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the National School Lunch Program.

This week, parents can receive food for their children through Friday, between 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., at their children’s school. The district asks parents of pre-K to fourth-grade students to arrive at 10 a.m.; fifth- to eighth-grade students to arrive at 10:30 a.m.; and ninth- to 12th-grade students to arrive at 11 a.m.

According to Celmer, a plan for next week is still being developed, although the district should have more information about it on Wednesday.

In addition to breakfast and lunch options, the Harrisburg Police Bureau, in partnership with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, will provide students with dinner meals.

“We understand our children have limited means and that creates an obstacle for a lot of families,” Community Policing Coordinator Blake Lynch said. “We want to try and step in because the commissioner and our offices understand that serving is important.”

Parents can pick up these meals on Wednesday, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m., and on Friday at the same times.

Food pick-up locations for all three meals are:

  • Foose School (1301 Sycamore St.)
  • Rowland Academy (1842 Derry St.)
  • John Harris Campus (2451 Market St.)
  • Downey School (1313 Monroe St.)
  • Ben Franklin School (1205 N. 6th St.)
  • Camp Curtin Academy (2900 N. 6th St.)

Lynch expects to see the program continue next week. However, the police bureau is working closely with the district to see how plans develop.

Food is being packaged and handed out through the help of community members and groups volunteering alongside the bureau and the school district.

Celmer encouraged families to resist congregating at pick-up sites to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

The district is also working on academic enrichment activities for students to participate in outside of the classroom, Celmer said. Regular updates will be posted on the district’s website.

“This situation is unparalleled, but we are working together to do the best for our students,” Celmer said.

For more information, visit http://www.hbgsd.k12.pa.us/student_and_families/coronavirus___c_o_v_i_d-19_

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