Student meal distribution increases as shutdown continues

Student meal distribution increases as shutdown continues

Merrillville, Ind. -- More Pirate families are taking advantage of the Merrillville schools’ free meals for students, school corporation statistics show.

On Monday, Food Service staff distributed a total of 9,216 meals to families who came to pick up breakfasts and lunches for their students.

Almost every Monday since the schools closed on March 12, Merrillville students were able to obtain meals for three days. Last Monday’s distribution total equaled 3,072 meals per day, servicing 1,536 students, which is approximately one quarter of the corporation’s 6,195 student body.

The corporation distributes meals twice a week, so Merrillville students are also able to get meals on Thursdays, receiving breakfasts and lunches for four days.

“Watching the numbers climb every time we go out to serve meals is what we expected,” said Colleen Hostetler, director of Food Service for Merrillville Community School Corporation.

“Families have lost their jobs due to closures of so many places, because of COVID-19,” she continued. “The Merrillville Food Service Department is just happy to continue to feed our students when they need it most.”

Once schools closed, the school corporation identified more than a dozen sites, including all of its schools, as locations where student meals can be distributed twice a week at various times. The service started on March 17, a Tuesday, with a distribution of 1,760 meals reaching 440 students.

Each distribution day, the totals dramatically increased. As of Monday, Merrillville Food Service staff has distributed a grand total of 43,780 meals over seven distribution days.

Penny Parmley, Merrillville High School cafeteria manager, provided a request for families picking up meals on future dates.

“We ask that parents allow site workers to place the meals in car trunks to avoid any unnecessary contact,” she said.

For more information on the student meal distribution program, visit the school corporation website,