PSS to distribute meals starting Wednesday

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THE Public School System will distribute free meals to all its students beginning March 25.

Education Commissioner Dr. Alfred Ada said the students will each receive one meal set — breakfast, lunch, and snack — daily until classes resume.

The distribution sites, which are drive- and walk-through, are Gregorio T. Camacho Elementary School, Tanapag Middle School, Garapan Elementary School, Oleai Elementary School. Dandan Middle School, Marianas High School, Francisco M. Sablan Middle School, Saipan Southern High School, Chacha Oceanview Middle School, Chalan Kanoa Head Start, Tinian Elementary School, Sinapalo Elementary School, and Dr. Rita H. Inos Jr/Sr High School.

In an interview, Ada said finding the manpower to distribute meals in 13 schools was a challenge.

“They are now undergoing [food handling] certification training,” Ada said, adding that PSS will conduct a dry run on Tuesday to make sure that everything is taken care of. But he still expects “hiccups” on the first day of distributing about 8,000 packs of food.

Students, Ada said, do not have to go to their school to get their meals. “If you live in Garapan, they can pick it up at the Garapan site even if they attend MHS.”

Board of Education Chairwoman Janice Tenorio reminds the public that the meals are for children who are attending school.

“This distribution is a collaboration with the governor who sought the PSS’ assistance,” she added. “Continuing the meal program will somehow keep the economy going. The vendors for this meal program are purchasing available items.”

Ada said the vendors were selected through the bidding process at the beginning of the school year, and have been providing meals to the children. “They passed the Child Nutrition Program standards,” he added.

Tenorio said the menu has been approved by the BOE and the PSS- Child Nutrition Program.

For his part, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said the central government will help PSS distribute the food to the children.

PSS has issued the following student meal distribution guidelines:

• All meals will be delivered curbside to vehicles and at marked sidewalk locations for walk-ups to honor public health recommendations on social distancing.

• A parent cannot claim a meal for their child or children. However, parents are encouraged to accompany their child for safety reasons.

• Bring a grocery bag or small cooler to take food home for the day.

• Stay in your vehicles when picking up your meals.

• Walk-up lines will be clearly marked. Cones will serve as place holders in the lines and will be spaced six feet apart for social distancing.

• After picking up meals, all children and families are asked to observe social distancing and refrain from congregating.

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