Montezuma County schools might be closed, but the food line is open.
Dolores, Mancos and Montezuma-Cortez school districts are offering free lunches and breakfasts to students 18 and younger, in collaboration with the county, the Piñon Project and the Ute Mountain Ute tribe. They’re still determining the size of their operation and needs, but the programs have begun this week in Mancos and are set to start next week in Cortez and Dolores.
The programs are being funded by federal dollars, although Lis Richard, superintendent of Dolores School District Re-4A, said it will take time before the emergency funding trickles down to their district.
“The way emergency funds work is you don’t always get them right away,” she told The Journal. “So I’ve actually applied for some outside grant monies as well, from donors, to help us with the immediate needs.”
For Dolores students, sack lunches and breakfasts will be provided Monday through Friday between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. at three locations: a curbside distribution point in front of the campus, the Elks Lodge in Cortez and the Montelores Baptist Church in Lewis.
Families are asked to fill out a meals survey, available online, so the district knows how many meals to provide.
“These meals will be simple and shelf-stable to ensure that we don’t risk illness from food handling and storage issues after the meals are delivered,” the survey states. Re-4A’s grab-and-go meal program will begin March 30.
In Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1, meals will be delivered first at the middle school, although they might expand to other locations if participation exceeds 500, said Melissa Brunner, the district’s finance director, at a virtual school board meeting Tuesday. For the first week, over 200 meals have been requested.
Brunner said they will serve all children up to age 18, even those not currently enrolled in the district.
“All children up to 18,” she told The Journal. “So if they’re not in school yet or don’t go to our school or if they’re home-schooled.”
Participants in the food program are asked to fill out a survey online as well, to help the district gauge students’ food needs. The first survey closed 3 p.m. Wednesday; second will open Monday.
The service will begin March 30, with meal pickups at the Montezuma-Cortez Middle School from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., though times may change based on demand.
In Mancos School District Re-6, grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches will be provided on Mondays, with a week’s worth of meals distributed each time. For in-town families,food can be picked up in the bus loop in front of the high school from 8-10 a.m. Families are asked to remain in their cars to comply with social distancing efforts.
“Meals will be distributed in front of the cafeteria,” the Re-6 website states. “Please pull up and indicate how many meals you have signed up for, and meals will be brought to your car.”
For Re-6 families living out of town, food will be delivered along the bus route, also on Mondays, according to Mancos secondary Principal John Marchino.
The next meal service delivery is scheduled for March 30. People who did not fill out the initial survey can still sign up to participate by emailing food services director Janet Fogel at firstname.lastname@example.org.