During the statewide teachers strike in Oklahoma, one school district is utilizing their school buses as mobile cafeterias to feed students while schools are closed.
According to the Associated Press, schools in the state have been closed for nine consecutive days, but nutrition workers for the Oklahoma City school district have continued to prepare meals for students.
After nutrition workers packed coolers full of sandwiches, fruit, milk and water, school bus drivers transported the meals to areas were students were gathered, reportedly targeting poorer neighborhoods.
This week alone, the Oklahoma City school district has delivered 17,000 bag lunches to approximately 30 sites, including community centers, parks and churches.
Otis Moses, a supervisor for the district’s meal services division, said his staff collaborated to assist teachers and students during the strike.
“Yes we’re ready to get our students back in school and back in the buildings,” Moses said. “But at the same point in time we’re going to do what we can do from a nutrition standpoint to help our children out every day.”
Other organizations have joined the effort to feed students while schools remain closed, including the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, which has deployed two food trucks across Tulsa, where volunteers have served approximately 800 lunches per day.
Jimmy Burdette, a multimedia teacher at Broken Arrow High School, assisted in serving the lunches.
“A lot of them, the only meal they get that’s hot is in school,” Burdette said regarding the students.
Schools in Oklahoma have been closed since April 2 due to the massive teachers strike, during which educators and support staff have demanded higher wages and increased funding for school resources.
Earlier in April, Oklahoma’s Republican Gov. Mary Fallin approved pay raises of $6,100 per teacher, but educators contended that the raises are not enough and do not address long-term education funding.
The Oklahoma Education Association, a teachers union, deemed the funding legislation “incomplete” and began the strike shortly thereafter.