Burlington City police work with school district to provide meals for hungry students

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Schools in Burlington City will be closed until at least April 20 due to the coronavirus outbreak – creating a gap for those students who qualify for meal assistance.

To ensure that students do not go hungry during this time, the Burlington City Police Department is teaming up with the school district to provide free meals for the next five weeks.

“We didn’t want 8- and 9-year-olds trying to cook and then if the house catches fire, then we’d have a lot of situations that way,” says Officer Jeffrey Green.

Officials have set up several stationary sites where students can pick up food.

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“There’s a sandwich in there, juice, apples, fruit, vegetables. So, it’s a good meal that can hold them over for the day until it’s time for dinner,” says Marguerite Hodges, director of Life 4 Corners Day Care.

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Police have also set up mobile meal service.

“We have police cars going into different areas, playgrounds and different areas of the town…in order for children to walk up and receive their meal,” says Burlington City Police Chief John Fine.

Fine says that they will also deliver the food directly.

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“There’s a level of poverty in Burlington City that is above-average compared to other municipalities in the county. So, we know there is that need,” says Fine.

But the chief also says that if it gets to the point where public pickup spots are no longer allowed, they will work on options to make sure no student goes hungry.

"I think that we're going to have to go more from a mobile outreach to more of a homebound delivery service,” says Fine.

Fine says that police fed more than 70 children on the first day of the effort. He says that he hopes to serve many more in the coming weeks.

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