Roanoke City Schools' meal delivery shutdown has shifting explanations

By  | 

ROANOKE, Va (WDBJ7) The story lies in the numbers. For most of the last two weeks, Roanoke City Schools have delivered meals to students, five days a week. Monday, the last day of normal deliveries, Roanoke City dropped off nearly 17,000 meals to students.

That evening, they announced future deliveries were canceled, and parents would have the opportunity to pick up meals at certain locations Tuesday. As a result, only 2,800 meals were picked up Tuesday.

Wednesday and Thursday, RCPS says there will be no meals.

According to Roanoke City Schools spokesperson Justin McLeod, the district shut down meal deliveries because of concerns over the Governor's stay-at-home order. In an email, McLeod said those concerns came from "a number of people; this included RCPS staff, SodexoMAGIC, Durham Student Services and members of the community."

However, when asked, Durham spokesperson Edward Flavin told WDBJ7 "We did not have any concerns after the Governor's stay-at-home order was issued. We continue to work hand-in-hand with RCPS."

WDBJ7 also reached out to the Virginia Department of Education to see if there would be any conflict between the governor's stay-at-home order and the district's meal delivery plan. VDOE responded by forwarding guidance it sent out to school districts state-wide, saying "in short, your meal service and instructional packet plans may continue."

Neighboring districts, including Roanoke and Montgomery counties, have continued their meal deliveries without issue.

"I mean, I was upset about it," said Lori Dempsey, one of Roanoke City's bus drivers.

Dempsey says drivers also found out about the canceled deliveries on Monday. She's concerned how this will impact the students she sees almost every day.

"Our main concern is our kids. We're not concerned about anything else," she said. "We're out there on the front lines to make sure our kids and our parents are happy."

During a Roanoke City School Board Meeting Tuesday, deputy superintendent Dan Lyons told the board that while deliveries are shut down, the district will be consolidating bus routes.

"We have reduced our transportation from 148 down to 48 routes," he said.

Lyons said school bus deliveries would be resuming next Wednesday, April 8. After that, the district will transition to dropping off two days worth of food to students every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Parents will also be able to pick up food on April 3 at several schools, including Fallon Park Elementary, Round Hill Elementary, Roanoke Academy for Mathematics and Science, Patrick Henry High School and William Fleming High School.

In a message that went out to parents Tuesday evening, Roanoke City Schools said they were sorry for the disruption. "We apologize for any inconvenience and hardship the suspension of food delivery caused you and your children," the message read.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ7. All rights reserved.