Church steps up to feed students after SCS announces school closures

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis church is stepping in to help provide food for Shelby County Schools students in light of schools being closed due to coronavirus concerns.

Reverand Sara Corum is not only a pastor with Trinity United Methodist Church. She’s also a parent with Shelby County Schools. She says when she was notified the district was extending spring break, she knew her church had to jump into action.

“If we close the schools, there are children who are dependent upon breakfast and lunch and even afternoon snacks that won’t be eating during that time off,” Corum said.

Corum says in order to help families who may depend on the district to help feed their children, her church is giving away $25 vouchers to families in need over the next two weeks.

Corum says she feels the school districts abrupt decision to close puts a burden on parents.

“There’s not been enough time to plan for an extra week of spring vacation,” Corum said.

In a statement sent out early Thursday morning, the district said it will cancel all classes until March 30th to get a full assessment of coronavirus risks for students and staff, and perform deep cleanings in all the district buildings.

This decision comes days after Superintendent Ray made it clear that closing schools would be a last resort.

“Closing schools is an extreme measure that would be disruptive for staff and families. This decision will not be taken lightly,” Ray said.

Corum says she’s been disappointed in the lack of information and the lack of clarity.

“We have heard a lot of promises without a lot of detail about how that’s going to be handled,” Corum said.

Aside from the food vouchers, Corum says the church also has a small food pantry outside the church where people can give what they can and take what they need.

“Like I said, we’re going to give until we have nothing else to give and there’s a lot of need,” Corum said.

SCS sent a statement in response to concerns about food insecurity:

Shelby County Schools is committed to addressing food insecurity and ensuring that all students continue to receive meals while the District is closed. SCS has developed a preliminary food distribution strategy that involves the least-risky exposure for our students and families. Our Nutrition Services Center team will provide take-away lunches for students between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the multiple locations throughout the county beginning Monday, March 23 through Friday, March 27. Specific locations and community pantry partnerships will be announced in the coming days.

If you would like to donate to the church’s voucher fund or if you’re in need of a food voucher, you can contact the church at 901-274-6895. More information is also available on the church’s Facebook page.

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