Youngstown Schools Provide 3 Days of Food to Students

By Lisa Solley
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – An endless line of idling cars curled around McGuffey Elementary School’s crept through the parking lot waiting for workers to pass along plastic bags filled with food.

Teachers, bus drivers and volunteers filled plastic bags with breakfast and lunch items, enough for three days so children will have meals until school officials receive further instruction after Sunday’s announcement by Gov. Mike DeWine that Ohioans were to stay in place to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. 

Aaron Bouie III, McGuffey Elementary’s principal, said this is the last day in compliance with the governor’s order to stay at home, but Youngstown City School District officials are checking on if food can be distributed again Thursday. 

Nearly 800 students attend McGuffey, making it one of the largest in the district. According to Bouie, breakfast and lunch were served to 100 students last week.

On Monday, a school bus brought enough food for 430 students. Volunteers quickly placed food in plastic bags as teachers used hand-held walkie talkies to communicate how many meals each car needed.

McGuffey Elementary librarian Tracey Dawson and Principal Aaron Bouie III load food into a car.

Sherrie Wolfe of Youngstown sat in the parking lot at Kirkmere Elementary with her three-year-old granddaughter in the back seat. 

“I think they are doing a great job with this,” she said. “We’re staying at home and you just have to do what you gotta do.”

She said her granddaughter loves going to school and is having a hard time understanding why she has to stay home. Her teacher, Gia Marra, was at the food distribution and was able to greet her students.

“It’s hard for me because a lot of them come on that last day so I didn’t even get to say goodbye to them. That was hard,” Marra said “I only had seven out of the 20 kids.”

She is using an app to communicate with parents and has provided hard copies of worksheets. She will provide a video next week of her reading that parents can download so students can watch. 

“Kids call me and I talk to them and send them resources. Parents say kids are asking about me,” she says. “I told them that we were on spring break and that I’ll see them in a couple of weeks.”

Tara Amill, assistant principal at McGuffey Elementary, coordinates how many meals each family needs.

For many McGuffey students, having access to e-learning is something officials are working to provide in the coming week.

“It’s one of our barriers, a hiccup that not all of students have access to Wi-Fi,” Bouie said.

He said the school has enough laptops for all students in grades six through eight, but they haven’t provided them students, “because there’s no guarantee that there is internet access in the home.”

He commended teachers for the steps they are taking to stay in touch with students, and that many are using technology to stay in touch and provide learning.

“It’s impressive because not everyone has the same level of technological skills. [They’re] willing to push the envelope. It’s huge for us because it keeps students learning and doing the best you can with what you have,” Bouie said. 

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.