Richard Carranza wants to make sure no child goes hungry during the coronavirus pandemic, and to that end he has ensured that, at least during the week, all of them have access to three square meals a day. Whether they attend public school or not.
Beginning Monday, according to the schools chancellor, more than 400 sites will open offering free breakfast, lunch and dinner for all children under 18. The only stipulation is they can't eat it on-site, and must take it with them, in order to maintain the "social distancing" required as part of the efforts to curb the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.
"This is a time to be aware, not a time to be panicked," Carranza said during a Friday evening news conference. "It is a time to follow instruction. And I have been so inspired, Mr. Mayor, as I've been out in the city overlooking its professional development, and virtually across the system. And that in a matter of days, the largest school system in America is going to switch its instruction devliery method."
Public schools are turning to distance learning for many students, while another 90 or so "enrichment centers" will open around the city for children of parents who can't leave their jobs, and have no one else to care for their kids during the day. Those centers will remain open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the vast majoity serving kindergarten through 12th grade, and a dozen or so others tackling preschool.
Meals also will be served at those locations, although any child looking for something to eat will have a chance to visit a number of other facilities. No one will be asked to show ID, Carranza said, and they don't have to be an enrolled student in a public school. Parents and guardians will be able to pick up food for their children as well.
Among the sites locally expected to be open between 7:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., according to the education department's website:
• P.S. 86 at 2756 Reservoir Ave.
• P.S. 207 at 3030 Godwin Terrace
• Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy at 660 W. 237th St.
Other locations could open as the need arises. Updated location lists are available at Schools.nyc.gov.
The education department also is working with online delivery services like DoorDash to help deliver food to kids who can't make it out of their homes because of medical reasons, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. It's all part of a broad city effort to try and keep the city moving forward, even as it shuts down Sunday evening.
"Anyone out there who is confused, you are not alone," de Blasio said. "If you feel afraid, you are not alone. If you're anxious, you are not alone.
"New Yorkers are so strong. Here, New Yorkers have dealt with every single thing thrown at them, and we have had a lot thrown at us. We are a tough people by nature, and that's something to be proud of.
"Let's depend on that. Let's believe in that, and believe in the compassion of New Yorkers to help each other out. Let's be there for each other."
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