Fairbanks School District program has distributed thousands of meals to borough children

 The meal program has been operating since March 18th. (Alex Bengel/KTVF)
The meal program has been operating since March 18th. (Alex Bengel/KTVF) (KTVF)
Published: Apr. 7, 2020 at 5:01 PM AKDT
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Since March 18th, the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District has operated a program for providing meals during school closures. 44, 800 meals have been distributed so far.

School buses parked at more than 40 locations around the borough serve as distribution sites, handing out breakfast and lunch while maintaining social distancing. These sites are open Monday through Friday during one of two blocks of time -- from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., or from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. -- with exceptions for Midnight Sun Elementary and North Pole Elementary, which serve from 9 a.m. to noon.

Coral Craigen, Elementary Kitchen Manager at Weller Elementary School, serves meals outside Weller from 9-11 a.m., and then transition to serving outside the Fox General Store from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. “The process is going really good,” she said.

According to Craigen, she serves close to 120 kids a day. This represents an increase from the first day of the program, during which she served around 45 students, but still falls short of the 180 meals she served daily at the school before the closures took effect. “I’m still missing some kids, but I’m seeing the majority of all my kids,” she said.

In the first week of the distribution program, more than 10,000 meals were served, with that number increasing to more than 17,000 the following week. With that many meals to provide, district staff working at the buses have adopted strategies for practicing social distancing.

“I have them stay in their car just to keep the six-foot distance and then I’ll ask the students if they want lunch or breakfast,” Craigen said.

Deb Marcos, Kitchen Supervisor at Lathrop High School, distributes meals at Lathrop from 9-11 a.m. and True North Church from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. She has also noticed the increase in meals being served. “We’re getting the word out to people that we’re out here providing meals for students and their families,” she said.

To keep social distancing protocol, Marcos places the meal on a table at her location, then steps back, allowing the person collecting the meal to do so while maintaining six feet of distance.

Speaking about the program, Craigen said, “I think it’s really important because I know there are families out there that can use the resources, especially when a lot of them have lost their jobs because of the virus. So I know at least they’re getting a good, nutritious breakfast and lunch every day.”

“We know in our hearts how much it means to everybody and they are very thankful and grateful for us being out there for them,” Marcos said.

The program is available to any child under 18 years old in the borough, including those who do not qualify for free or reduced lunch and those who are home school educated.

A full list of distribution sites and times can be found at

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