By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

Providing meals to Trousdale County children during the coronavirus crisis is a challenge being accepted by the school system and local groups.

Trousdale County Schools announced that it would provide free breakfast and lunch options to all children, regardless of if they are enrolled in school. Even homeschooled children can get meals.

“Any child in Trousdale County 2 years and up; we won’t have baby food,” said Coordinated School Health supervisor Kathy Atwood. “Anyone enrolled in our schools, regardless of age, can eat.”

Menu courtesy of Trousdale County Schools

Individually packaged meals will be available Monday through Friday beginning March 30, at Trousdale County High School from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. A full menu is available on the schools’ website at tcschools.org.

Director of Schools Clint Satterfield said at last week’s School Board meeting that the district is prepared to provide the free meals through the scheduled end of the school year in May, in case schools remain closed long term.

Meals will be distributed at the front porch of the high school and children must be present to pick up food. Lunch and breakfast for the following morning will be provided at the same time. Meals may not be eaten on site.

“It’s the same way the summer feeding program works,” Atwood said. “We cannot dispense meals to anyone who’s not on site.”

Most of the lunches will be hot meals, as Atwood said school officials felt it might be the only hot meal some children get.

Atwood said the school system is looking at alternate distribution options but could not elaborate.

Satterfield said USDA regulations prevented the schools from offering meals before March 30. While USDA has provided a waiver, it came through after the district had ordered food and made its plans.

“It’s planning. Prior to the waiver, guidance said we could not feed during a scheduled school break such as Spring Break… We’ve been working on this for six or seven days,” Satterfield said.

Satterfield also noted that budget concerns were part of the equation as there were no funds allotted to food staff and/or drivers during Spring Break.

Anyone with questions on the school meals can call 615-374-0907 or email [email protected]

In addition to the school meals, families can pick up food boxes beginning Saturday, March 28 from 9-11 a.m. at the Church of the Firstborn on McMurry Blvd.

This will be a joint venture between the schools, local churches and civic groups in the community, similar to the summer program.

“That’s open to anybody who needs food, not just the Backpack Program (recipients),” Atwood said. “If we have families who need food, they can come on those Saturday mornings.”

Also, the food pantry at the Community Help Center (120 E. McMurry Blvd.) is open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10-11 a.m. and noon-2 p.m. The Help Center pantry is available to those who meet USDA requirements. For more information on those requirements, call 615-374-2904.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or [email protected]