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Valley schools offering free meals for students while classrooms are closed

One East Valley school district is feeding students amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

GILBERT, Ariz. — While Arizona schools remain closed in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of districts are finding ways to continue serving their communities. 

The Higley Unified School District is handing out grab-and-go meals to make sure no children go hungry. 

Families like the Burgetts appreciate the move while schools remain shut down. 

“It’s pretty amazing actually. They gave the kids each a little cereal bowl, a spoon, a fruit cup," Dawn Burgett said. 

The breakfasts and lunches are available for all children under age 18 – for free. Several locations are open Monday through Friday, from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. 

“The community has come together and let everybody know that it’s here and it’s available," Burgett said. "So, it’s great."

School district superintendent Dr. Mike Thomason says there are more than 2,500 students in the district that qualify for free and reduced lunches. 

He adds that the meals and extended serving hours are a huge help, while following the CDC guidelines for cleanliness.

“We’re seeing a huge increase in the numbers of meals we’re providing because we have extended hours, but that also allows Higley Unified School district to pay a lot of our classified staff their regular paychecks," Thomason said.

In addition to the free meals, Thomason says they’re also offering childcare.

“Right now we’ve opened the service up for no cost to first responders and medical professionals because they don’t have the choice," he said. "They have to go to work.”

Thomason says they’re taking every precaution possible for childcare, from small group numbers, to taking temperatures every day, keeping siblings together, the same groups together daily and sanitizing the bathrooms and playgrounds after use.

It's a big community effort while students try to wait patiently to return to school. For details click here

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