Resources: Free meals, internet for children across Idaho

MARSING — Jill McIntyre’s kids piled out of her van as she pulled up to the Marsing City Park on Thursday morning and made their way toward a picnic table covered in brown paper sacks.

Teresa Bettleyon, the Marsing School District’s child nutrition director, and district bus driver Barbara Battaglia handed over two lunches and two breakfast bags for each of the six McIntyre kids — plus a few bags of canned and boxed goods to share.

The food pickup was somewhat familiar for the McIntyre family, who visit the district’s lunch program in the summer. Thursday’s food pickup was instead intended to help out families while the schools are closed down because of coronavirus concerns, and McIntyre appreciated the effort.

“Having the kids home all day makes a lot bigger of a grocery bill,” McIntyre said. “It’s nice to get a little bit of help that way.”

School districts across the state have set up food pick-up sites, or are delivering free meals by bus routes to kids ages 1-18 during the COVID-19  school closures. At Marsing’s sites and others, all kids get free food, not just those who qualify for the federal free- and reduced-priced meals program.

After the Marsing School District announced it was closing down early this week because of virus concerns, Bettleyon and staff packed up hundreds of lunches for pickup at four different sites in the small town. If closures continue, Bettleyon said, the district plans to start delivering the food along the school bus routes, to make sure it’s accessible for students in the district’s more remote homes.

“Child hunger is such an issue in our world, you always have to be prepared,” Bettleyon said.  “Have a plan to feed the kids.”

Idaho EdNews is collecting a list of free services that students and families can access over the extended break. Do you know of a service we should add to the list? Send reporter Sami Edge a message at [email protected] 

Free food pickup sites for kids

Other resources:

Free food for kids: The State Department of Education  has compiled a full list of sites where children ages 1-18 can pick  up free meals during COVID-19 shutdowns. Find that full map here.

Digital education resources: The Department of Education and Idaho Digital Learning academy have all kinds of free online educational lessons, projects and shows (divvied up by grade level) at the Parent Educational Resource Center. Find that here.

ATC communications in the southwestern part of the state and is offering to set up an internet connection for children in their coverage area who do not have home internet to do school work. ATC covers four school districts in the Albion, Malta, Raft River, Elba, Almo, Yost, Arco, Howe, Moore, Mackay, Malad  City and Holbrook areas. To reach the company call (208) 673-5335.

Spectrum Internet – offering 60 days of free internet to homes with K-12 or college students. To enroll, call 1-844-488-8395.

Cox Internet: Is providing one-month free internet (and 9.95/month after that) for families with K-12 kids who qualify for the National School Lunch Program, SNAP or TANF benefits.

Online art  classes: The Boca Raton museum of art is offering free art lessons for kids through online streaming. The museum suggests that parents make sure kids set up a mess-friendly “creative zone” before getting started with the “Keep Kids Smart with ART” series. Find the first lesson HERE starting Friday.

For other community resources: Visit this list of free resources compiled by the Idaho Statesman, which includes everything from free yoga live-streams to food pantries and restaurants offering delivery.

Sami Edge

About Sami Edge

Reporter Sami Edge, a University of Oregon graduate, joined Idaho Education News in 2019. She is a 2019 Education Writers Association fellow reporting on Latino student outcomes in Idaho. She also is a 2019 American Press Institute fellow. She can be reached at [email protected].

Read more stories by Sami Edge »

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