Massive need for food in Stanly County after school district reverts to remote learning

Need for food in Stanly County increases with district closure

STANLY COUNTY, N.C. — More than 350 students and staff in Stanly County Schools have been in quarantine, which forced the district to go to remote learning for two weeks.

The district announced the change Saturday and virtual learning started Wednesday.

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That did not give a lot of time for parents to find childcare. In addition, schools will not provide students meals they usually rely on.

Stanly County Schools is the first district in the area to open for in-person instruction and then have to close entirely.

“It affects all of us,” said Heather Kilde, executive director at Stanly Community Christian Ministry.

The ministry is anticipating feeding more families in the next two weeks with the schools closed. In Stanly County Schools, more than half of the students qualify for free or reduced-cost lunch.

The sudden switch to remote learning means parents may have a harder time making ends meet at a time when families are already stretched thin.

“We have heard our kids are eating us out of house and home, and that’s why we are here with our food pantry,” said Jenny Clore, development director at Stanly Community Christian Ministry.

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The organization is serving hot lunches for families daily at its community table. The ministry is partnering with First Baptist Church of Albemarle to distribute bagged breakfasts three days a week starting Monday.

“We are able to provide the food through some COVID funding we have received, but we just don’t have the manpower,” Clore said.

“Folks in Stanly County are very resourceful and help each other a fantastic bit,” Kilde said.

They said families who’ve never needed assistance before may need help now if they’ve had to reduce their hours at work to stay home with their kids.

“We hope families will come to us for food when they are struggling with those rent and utility expenses, because we have that service to offer and they can put more of their household budget towards those bills,” Kilde said.

Channel 9 asked the district why it can’t distribute meals. Interim Superintendent Vicki Calvert said more than 100 staff members are needed to prepare and deliver meals, even on the bus routes, and they are trying to avoid continued exposures.

“Serving meals to students in this manner could potentially expose approximately 100 staff members and cause even more reduced staffing availability due to, not only those who may contract the virus but also contact-tracing quarantine protocols could cause many other staff members to become unavailable to work in our food services,” Calvert said.

They’re also working with a reduced staff. They said the health department recommends a complete closure to keep all employees apart to reduce the spread.

We also asked if the remote period may last for more than two weeks.

Calvert said, “If there is a sustained or continuation in the rise of the positivity rate of COVID-19 in Stanly County, the Board of Education will evaluate the circumstances of our staff, student and community population in order to make a decision that best serves to provide a safe environment for our district. The depletion of critical resources such as the number of staff available for face-to-face instruction will be a key factor in determining the direction the Board of Education will consider in order to return to a hybrid plan of instruction. SCS is prepared with plans for various scenarios of either full-remote learning or a hybrid of full-remote and face-to-face instruction.”

Community Table Free Lunch Times and locations:

Community Table at Albemarle is next to the Assistance Center at 512 S. First St.

  • Lunch is served from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. daily
  • For more information, please call 704-984-6825

Community Table at Norwood is at 227 North Kendall St.

  • Lunch is served from 11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. daily
  • For more information, please call 704-474-9085