Hamilton County Schools changes times of student meal pick-up amid coronavirus spread

Volunteer Michaela Lawrence hands out meals to families with students at Hilsman Middle School in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Meals will be handed out each morning from 8:00a.m. to 10:00p.m. at Hilsman Middle School in Oglethorpe Elementary as well as others delivered by bus due to caronavirus. (Joshua L. Jones/Athens Banner-Herald via AP)

Starting Thursday, the dozens of Hamilton County school sites offering meal pick-up for students while schools are closed will only be open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

With Hamilton County Schools closed until at least April 13 amid concerns about spreading the coronavirus, the district is providing meals for any child under 18 at 37 different locations.

"Starting today there will only be one window for families to pick up student meals from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. During that time, families will be able to pick up both lunch for that day & breakfast for the following day," according to a Facebook post from the district Thursday.

Chief Operations Officer Justin Robertson said that for many families, visiting the site twice a day was difficult, so the district sought state approval to combine breakfast and lunch pick-up. The meals will be provided as long as schools remain closed, Robertson said.

More than a third, or 35.4%, of Hamilton County students are considered "economically disadvantaged" and about 64.7%, or almost 30,000 students, have access to free breakfast and lunch every day at schools - which means many kids might not have lunch while they are home from school this month.

The Tennessee Education Department applied for waivers from the federal government to be able to use school nutrition funds typically reserved for summer feeding programs to continue feeding children during the current crisis.

A variety of local community organizations are also providing meals or resources to children and their families. For a list of such resources, click here.

Contact Meghan Mangrum at mmangrum@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.


Service will begin Tuesday, March 17, and run through at least March 20. Breakfast will be served from 7 to 9 a.m. and lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., according to Hamilton County Schools. Harrison Bay - Bess T. Shepherd Elementary - Harrison Elementary - Hillcrest Elementary - Lakeside Academy - Ooltewah Elementary - Snow Hill Elementary - Wallace A. Smith Elementary - Wolftever Creek Elementary Missionary Ridge - CSLA - East Brainerd Elementary - East Ridge Elementary - East Side Elementary - Spring Creek Elementary North River - Allen Elementary - Big Ridge Elementary - Daisy Elementary - Hixson Elementary - McConnell Elementary - Middle Valley Elementary - North Hamilton County Elementary - Soddy Elementary Opportunity Zone - Barger Academy - Calvin Donaldson Elementary - Clifton Hills Elementary - East Lake Elementary - Hardy Elementary - Orchard Knob Elementary - Woodmore Elementary Rock Point - Alpine Crest Elementary - Battle Academy - Brown Academy - CSAS - Lookout Valley Elementary - Nolan Elementary - Normal Park Upper - Red Bank Elementary - Rivermont Elementary Community Sites - College Hill Courts (Westside), 1300 Grove St. Court – East Lake Salvation Army, 2140 E 28th St. - Emma Wheeler Homes, 4900 Edinburg Drive - Highland Park Commons, 2000 Union Ave. in the Pavilion - Orchard Park Seventh Day Adventist Church, 951 N. Orchard Knob Ave.