Here’s how to get meals, books for students and their families

Although schools are not functioning in a recognizable way, the communities that exist within the schools are still pushing to provide for each other.

by Eric Marshall
March 23, 2020

In the past few weeks, schools all around the country have followed Louisiana in closing for the foreseeable future. There will be no standardized testing this year. Although schools are not functioning in a recognizable way, the communities that exist within the schools are still pushing to provide for each other.

Schools are a place for children to eat, socialize, learn, exercise, and just be themselves. Trying to recreate that without a building in a classroom is difficult. However, all around the city teachers and volunteers are pitching in to support their community.

Earlier this week, teachers reported to school and passed out packets and work to parents who went through a new kind of carpool line. At Encore Academy, located in the St. Roch neighborhood, teachers were each given a group of four to five children to check-in on every day. Encore’s teachers, like many teachers at other schools, are also putting themselves at the forefront of the novel coronavirus outbreak by volunteering to pass out meals every day.

Daily Food Distribution

New Orleans Public Schools announced over the weekend that 43 Feeding Distribution sites would be open. The sites were organized with the help of NORD, nonprofits, faith-based partners and local businesses. These sites (see the full list here) cover all of Orleans Parish, including Algiers and New Orleans East. From 9 a.m. to noon, these sites will be passing out two meals to enrolled students and people in the neighborhood.

With all the confusion and frustration in the world, it is truly incredible to see such an inclusive and meaningful project come together so quickly. Students do not have to go to the distribution sites to get the meals, parents and caregivers are welcome to pick up the meals for them. While a significant number of children in New Orleans don’t attend the school closest to their home, kids and families can show up the site that is most convenient for them.

Books and online resources

Encore Academy is working to provide more resources as well. The school has set up a library outside, with the doors left open to minimize contact. This and other efforts around the city are a boost to students and the community as we navigate these uncertain times. 

Online resources are available for children as well. Students have online logins for various programs like ABCMouse, MobyMax, Study Island, Epic! Books, Reading A-Z, Brain POP, and others.

The New Orleans Public Library also has free online resources for kids. All of their e-resources are accessible by using a library card. If you don’t remember your card number and think you might have one, you can use their Ask-a-Librarian tool on nolalibrary.org. They have also launched a virtual storytime, that is viewable on their website and YouTube channel.

The school may be closed, but some doors are still open for learning and community around the city.

Can’t Make It

For those households who are unaware of the program, Encore (and the other sites) passed out flyers to houses in the area alerting them of the food distribution. Families that can’t make it to a distribution site can dial 211 (if in Orleans Parish) for the United Way’s information line where they can find a Second Harvest food pantry closest to them.

Eric Marshall is originally from Houston, and has lived in New Orleans for the last five years. He has his masters in Public History from UNO and has worked as a cook, teacher, and tour guide in the city. His chapter in "Say it Forward: A Guide to Social Justice Storytelling" chronicled his oral history project that interviewed individuals who relocated from New Orleans to Houston after Hurricane Katrina. You can follow his garden and two shibas on instagram @theholyoaks or commiserate about the Pelicans and most anything @hotlunchplate on Twitter.

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