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Northeast Ohio Schools Begin Roll-Out Of Free Meal Service

With Ohio schools closed, districts are starting to give out free packaged meals to kids.

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District opened 22 food centers throughout the district for children under 18 to receive two packaged meals.

Staff members handed out 4,900 meal packages of breakfast and lunch over the first two days. CEO Eric Gordon said they are prepared to distribute many more.

“We know that the first few days are typically a little slower because people have had access to food, they’re settling into new routines," he said. "It's more as people kind of settle down in place, as people are struggling because they’re not working, those sorts of things, that we know the numbers will come up. Even just from day one to day two we saw increases in the numbers.”

He added that a gradual increase in turnout is what CMSD sees during its summer meal program.

Akron Public Schools, on the other hand, said they experienced a higher participation in its meal service than expected. Overall, staff members gave out 5,000 meals during the first day.

"It's almost double our daily numbers for open summer meals," said Laura Kepler, the district's director of nutrition.

She said at times host sites ran low on meal packages, and families had to wait for more meals to arrive.

"One thing we did not anticipate was the number of people providing day care now that needed meals and came to schools for multiple meals we had not planned on," she said.

Both CMSD and Akron Public Schools are offering meals to any child 18 or younger, even if they are not a student in the district. 

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