WORTHINGTON — Following Gov. Tim Walz's order to close all Minnesota schools though March 27, Independent School District 518 activated the school lunch plan that it uses during summer breaks.

As a result, all kids ages 18 and younger are welcome to pick up free sack lunches each weekday from various outdoor locations around Worthington.

Each bag contains a lunch and breakfast for the next day, and a choice of white or chocolate milk or one of each. The meal varies from day to day, and items are selected based on school lunch nutrition standards.

Meals can be picked up between 11 a.m. and noon each weekday at the following locations:

  • Prairie Elementary, 1700 First Ave. S.W.
  • Worthington Middle School, 1401 N. Crailsheim Road
  • Worthington High School, 1211 Clary St.
  • West Learning Center, 117 11th Ave.
  • Watland Park, Evelyn Street
  • Worthington Area YMCA, 1501 Collegeway
  • Millard Walker Park, Dover Street
  • Grace Community Church, 2011 Nobles St.

A group of three or four ISD 518 staff members is stationed at each location to distribute sack lunches. All someone has to do is show up and say how many lunches they need. Kids may come without parents, and parents may come without kids. Families are welcome to send a single representative to collect meals for a group.

Staff does record how many meals are being used, because it helps them plan how many to bring the next day, but no personal information is collected. Kids do not have to be enrolled in District 518 in order to receive these meals.

Beginning Tuesday, the district also began handing out bags of art supplies and activities, so kids can stay occupied while following guidance to stay home during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Although the district will start school again soon — a distance learning plan is in the midst of being prepared — the sack lunch program will continue until students are back together again in the classroom.