Members of the Arlington Police Department helped the Arlington School District hand out food as part of their meals program on May 13.

The district, like all districts in the state, is providing lunch meals to all kids during the stay-at-home order. Arlington School District is using designated drop sites such as at Kent Prairie Elementary, where Arlington police officers helped out recently.

"I'm the school resource officer so I'm the police officer designated for the entire school district. So I'm used to seeing these kids and they're used to seeing me on a daily basis," said officer Justin Olson.

"It's been hard on everybody and they've been kind of locked away in their house, so it's nice to have them come to a familiar place and see familiar people," he said.

Every year the Arlington Police Department and K-9 unit partner with a sponsor school that supports the local K-9 program.

This year Kent Prairie was the sponsor school, however all of the usual K-9 events had to be cancelled. Police officers wanted to come out to support the school still though.

Olson said it was a good opportunity to see the kids again as well.

"To show them that we are still there for them even though we don't get to see them every day," he said.

The lunch program helps kids that normally rely on school lunches for their dietary needs.

"As a school resource officer I do see a lot of kids in need. The school district takes up a good portion of helping them out," said Olson.

He said that he is at the schools not just when kids are in trouble, but to support students.

"I'm here to see them succeed just like everyone else is," he said.

The district's lunch program has been operating since March 16, originally at just two elementary school locations but has now greatly expanded.

"This week we've expanded again and now we're up to 23 sites total at which we're feeding students," said Brian Lewis, director of operations with the Arlington School District.

Recent drop-off sites have been targeted at distant areas such as Silvana and Sisco Heights.

"We want areas where kids can't reach our schools by foot," said Lewis.

In recent weeks the program has been giving out about 2,300 meals per day and has involved 120 workers helping with the process, including bus drivers, food service workers, custodians and district administrators.

The program may continue into the summer in a limited capacity or may continue as it is right now if regulations are changed.

"We can't provide meals the way we are right now, although things may change," said Lewis.

The district is planning to provide meals at Haller Middle School right now, which has the required cafeteria for students to eat at, but the drop-off sites would not work under current rules.

"My guess is that those rules may change," said Lewis.

He wanted to thank staff members and volunteers who are helping make the meals program a reality.

"We are so impressed with the courage of our people as they are going out every day to help feel these kids," said Lewis.

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