YMCA to run Shelby County Schools meal distribution program during closure

By , Daily Memphian Updated: March 22, 2020 5:16 PM CT | Published: March 22, 2020 3:32 PM CT

Editor’s note: Due to the serious public health implications associated with COVID-19, The Daily Memphian is making our coronavirus coverage accessible to all readers — no subscription needed.

The YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South has closed its area sites, but the organization will take over feeding Shelby County Schools students at sites previously scheduled to hand out meals.

Friday, the district announced it was indefinitely suspending its program after one of the nutrition services workers tested positive for COVID-19 “out of an abundance of caution” due to so many unknown factors about the virus.

Superintendent Joris Ray said 60% of students rely on the district’s free and reduced meal plan. The food previously planned to be distributed to students was through an SCS vendor.

Shelby County Schools distributing lunches across city

YMCA is providing the food and scheduling distribution through its staff at 62 locations, which include some churches, community centers and libraries. Food will be available for children under 18 from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Children must be present to receive a meal and may drive-thru or walk up if transportation is not available.

Families without internet access may also pick up learning materials at the sites.

Ray said on Twitter that local and national leaders reached out after the state’s largest school district announced the suspension of their meal program.

“Memphis and Shelby County, we cannot allow our children to go hungry,” Ray said Friday afternoon. “Today we are calling on city and county government, food pantries and any alternative community food distributors to lean in and provide urgent support and food resources for our children during this school closure period.”

The district provides meals throughout the summer to students as well. The meal distribution plan for the closure was similar to an early implementation of the program

Ray pleaded with community organizations “partner” and “wrap their arms around” students.

Shelby County Schools suspends meal distribution

“We were going to feed all children whether they were part of our school district or not,” Ray said, noting it was the “right thing to do.”

YMCA met that request of Ray and SCS.

YMCA of Memphis & Mid-South is also offering childcare for first responders and healthcare employees at this time, although it has suspended all other operations.

The Mid-South Food Bank is preparing 14-day food boxes for families who need it through at least March 31. Families must arrive at the locations and show valid ID with proof of an address.

Some local restaurants are also offering help for children. Shelby County’s 41 McDonald’s locations are offering a free breakfast – an entree and a side item – for children under 13 with some purchases.

Additionally, Cici’s Pizza three Memphis locations and Southaven location have 15,000 free pizzas that children under 18 may pick-up if they are accompanied by an adult. The offer is while supplies last.

Meaningful news delivered to you each week

Coverage of the key happenings in our city including city hall, education, and more.

Manage Your Email Subscriptions


coronavirus Shelby County Schools Free lunch YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South

Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren is a lifelong resident of Shelby County and a graduate of the University of Memphis. She has worked for several local publications and covers the suburbs for The Daily Memphian.


Reading comments and joining the conversation are some of the many benefits of subscribing. Join the conversation by clicking the View Comments button below. Not a subscriber? Click here. 

Our commenting policy can be viewed here

Meaningful news delivered to you each week

Coverage of the key happenings in our city including city hall, education, and more.

Manage Your Email Subscriptions