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St. Louis to give youth free grab-and-go meals at 33 sites

St. Louis to give youth free grab-and-go meals at 33 sites

COVID press conference

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and other city leaders initially announced limits on gatherings of more than 1,000 people as COVID-19 spreads in the U.S. and around the world. Photo by Nassim Benchaabane.

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis youth next week can pick up free grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches from 33 sites throughout the city while schools remain closed due to the coronavirus, officials announced Tuesday. 

The meal sites, which include schools and community centers, will be open weekdays from 8 a.m. to noon to serve anyone 18 or younger, no matter what school they attend, said Dr. Wilford Pinkney Jr., director of St. Louis youth services.

"This is about feeding the children in this city," Pinkney said at a news conference Tuesday night with Mayor Lyda Krewson and officials from public, charter and private schools in the city. 

Three sites will open Wednesday morning: 

• La Salle Middle School, 1106 Jefferson Avenue.

• Carondelet Leadership Academy, 7604 Michigan Avenue.

• Peabody Elementary School, 1224 South 14th Street. 

The other sites will open Monday, Pinkney said. 

St. Louis Public Schools coordinated with private and charter schools "to make sure that everyone, every child … will have access to meals during the break," said Dr. Michael Brown, deputy superintendent of St. Louis Public Schools. 

The federally-funded meals will not affect similar meal programs St. Louis Public Schools offer during the summer, Brown said.  

Youths receiving the free meals must be present when picking up the sack meals at each school or community center's gymnasium, Pinkney said.

They cannot eat their  meal at the school because of recommendations from health agencies to avoid unnecessary contact to help prevent spread of the coronavirus, he said. 

Officials will continue to meet weekly to continue discussing meal services and other issues facing about 45,000 youth in the city while schools are closed, Pinkney said. They are expected to remain closed at least until April 3. 

“Everybody behind me and the people on the board are ready to feed the kids that show up and to address whatever need is there,” Pinkney said. 

Meanwhile, daycare and child care centers would remain open under guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that bar gatherings of more than 50 people, Pinkney said.

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Reporter covering breaking news and crime by night. Born in Algeria but grew up in St. Louis. Previously reported for The Associated Press in Jackson, Mississippi and at the Wichita Eagle in Wichita, Kansas.

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