PEKIN (WEEK) - Aramark in Pekin is working with district 108 to provide free meals to those in need during state wide closures.
On March 13, Governor JB Pritzker announced all schools in Illinois would be closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and now extended the closures until April 30. Aramark food service director Kelsi Wolfmeyer says the business stepped in to help from the beginning.
"Their school work is supposed to be done at school, and their meals for breakfast and lunch are suppose to be at school but since we can't have that right now, this is a great way to do it," Wolfmeyer said.
Aramark started distributing at Wilson Intermediate and Edison Junior High only. However, they quickly realized the need was greater and decided to expand. Everyday, Aramark staff packs 1,200 lunches. On Thursday, they handed out 1,089 lunches across Pekin. At the end of the day, any remaining lunches are donated to the Salvation Army. Aramark now has 17 buses that travel to different schools, parks and churches, where anyone can receive a free breakfast and lunch.
"The district has done kind of a map across the district in mean of where these placements are going to be. Well populated areas and places with higher poverty than others, making sure we reach the most in the community," Wolfmeyer added.
Assistant superintendent Leonard Ealey says the school district was happy to team up with Aramark and be able to help the community.
"I want them to know that Pekin 108 is there for them. That we care not only for their students, but for them as well. We've got a lot of people that have been thankful and we appreciate that feedback," Ealey said.
Aramark says they will continue distributing lunches as long as schools remain closed. Lunch distribution happens Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to noon.