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A sudden downpour interrupted school lunch distribution at Sharpstein Elementary in late March of this year. The district will continue food distribution at 17 sites over the summer.

Walla Walla Public Schools will continue to provide breakfasts and lunches to students — and any Walla Walla youth from 1 to 18 — throughout the summer.

The school district is taking over the USDA Summer Meals Program normally put on by the city of Walla Walla. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city has called off most of its events, including the meal program.

At the district’s school board meeting Tuesday, Superintendent Wade Smith said the district plans to expand the program.

“We have kicked it up a notch,” Smith said. “We are actually offering this at 17 different locations across our entire community. We are also offering it for College Place residents.”

The USDA-approved grab-and-go style meals can be picked up at area schools Monday through Friday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., starting Monday.

Meals will also be available on that same schedule starting Monday at five other locations — Vista Terrace Park, Washington Park, Veterans Memorial Park, Valle Lindo Homes and Kiwanis Park in College Place.

On July 1, four other locations join the mix: The YMCA and Pioneer Park, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., and Jefferson Park and the Walla Walla Public Library, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Smith credits district nutrition services Director Pamela Milleson with working with the USDA and the state to receive the permission and waivers needed to take over and operate the program.

“Districts were not expected to do this,” Smith said. “But we decided to take this on because it is the right thing to do for our families in our communities, understanding that we have a tremendous amount of youth across our entire Valley experiencing pretty dire circumstances due to the economical impact COVID has had.”

A full list of pickup locations can be found on the WWPS website.

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Jeremy Burnham can be reached at 509-551-8896.

Reporter

Jeremy Burnham covers education and Columbia County for the Union-Bulletin. He is a recent graduate of Eastern Washington University, where he studied journalism, and is an Eastern Eagle fanatic.