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Although schools in California have been closed since mid-March, the Moniteau County R-1 School District has continued ensuring students who need meals are fed, even from a distance.

The district started a meal delivery program — not only for students, but for all children in the California community — as soon as it was forced to close and has continued it since April.

"This meal delivery system has been pretty cool — it has kept our drivers in work, but also serves a purpose for the kids in the community," Dale Embry, Safety Coordinator at Durham School Services, said.

During this time, things are kind of backwards, Embry said. Bus drivers are used to picking up students and taking them to school, but now they're bringing the school to the students.

Durham School Services is running two routes in California, one to the north and one to the south, with each bus having two people — a driver and a meal runner.

"When we deliver meals to the doors, it's kind of (a) knock and drop — you knock on the door and put the meals on the porch, on the front step and walk away from the door," Embry said. "So we're encouraging no contact with the driver and the kids or whoever is in the house. We're trying to keep everyone safe."

Everyone is teaming up during the time the school is closed in order to make the transition from school to home a little easier.

"The bus people have also helped pass out buddy packs and some of the homework packets," Director of Food Service Kate Klein said. "We start at 7:30 a.m. each morning to 1:15 p.m. And curbside is available from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. We've been making hot stuff so green beans, corn, stuff like that. And we're also helping out some of the day cares because at first, they couldn't get enough food to feed all the new kids."

As of April 9, the school has been feeding 270-300 children. And the numbers keep growing, Klein said.

Students are still able to sign up for the program by visiting the school's PTO page, with delivery and curbside pickup options available. Each bag delivered contains a hot lunch for the day of and breakfast for the next.

Phyllis Reynolds, Tobie Davis, Jenna McCumber, Dianna Bolfing and Klein are the five people who have volunteered to make lunches for students. The school is sticking with the same five volunteers to help reduce the amount of people in proximity to one another and to ensure everyone's safety.

California's school district, as well as the community, have come together in a difficult time to help the children of California adjust to what is now their new normal while their schools are shut down. Embry said it's an expected frame of mind in a community like California.

"That's the thing you see in these little communities. It's not just your neighbor next door, it's a family member — that's the kind of mentality these small towns have," Embry said.

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