DESOTO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Schools around the country, and here in North Texas, are working to ensure children have access to nutritious meals whether they are leaning virtually or in a classroom.

Chartwells K-12 is a school lunch provider in more than 4,500 schools across the nation. Here in North Texas, DeSoto ISD is one of the many districts they serve.

During quarantine, Chartwells K-12’s CEO Belinda Oakley says they served more than 100 million meals to children, despite the fact schools were closed.

Now as the school year gets back underway, they are discovering new and innovative ways to make sure children are still getting healthy and delicious meals whether they are learning at home or in a classroom.

“Let’s say they are doing two days a week in-person and three days a week at home,” Oakley says. “On that second in-person day, they could collect those three days’ worth of meals they would need for at home.”

“If they are 100% of their schooling virtual, they could arrange a collection site on a Monday or any day of the week and pick up a full weeks’ worth of meals.”

If students are attending school in-person and on-campus full-time, Oakley says they may notice that classrooms are utilized for lunch service more than the school’s cafeteria. A location change that would help to keep students isolated to just interacting with their specific classmates instead of their entire grade level.

“In that environment, (students) are going to get a prepackaged meal,” Oakley says. “So, if it’s ‘Taco Tuesday’– it will still be ‘Taco Tuesday,’ but in a box.”

“Everything they need will be in those individually wrapped packets, which will be cooked on-site and then transported into the classrooms.”

Oakley says flexibility is going to be the biggest trait needed in cafeterias this year, as schools continue to navigate through changes in the wake of COVID-19.

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Madison Sawyer