(The Center Square) – The City of Seattle has begun distributing meals to students in Seattle Public Schools (SPS) as the district continues negotiations with the Seattle Education Association (SEA).
Classes were supposed to start on Sept. 7, but have been delayed until the district and teachers union reach an agreement and end the strike.
The city is partnering with local Parent Teacher Student Associations (PTSAs) and community groups to distribute pre-packaged meals to students throughout 38 locations in Seattle.
Volunteers are providing meals to Seattle youth during lunch hours from Monday, Sept. 12 through Friday, Sept. 16.
“As we continue to support Seattle kids and families, our city administration, department, and staff will partner with parents and community groups to distribute lunches,” Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said in a statement.
The meals are being provided by SPS. The typical cost for lunches at Seattle schools averages $3.37, according to the district.
In the 2021-2022 school year, SPS noted that 34% of the 50,187 students enrolled in the district qualified for free lunches, paid for by taxpayers. That means it could have cost up to $57,504 per day for SPS to provide these “free” lunches for all qualifying students in the last school year.
The current cost of meal distribution while kids are out of school will be less than that, since many kids will get their lunches elsewhere while school is out and the district will plan accordingly.
The city is also opening recreation activity hubs to provide students with free recreational programs and activities starting Monday Sept. 12.
Eight designated community centers throughout the Seattle area will host the events. Students in kindergarten through sixth grade will have access to the free recreational programs and activities, according to Mayor Harrell.
The Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) department is partnering with the Associated Recreation Council (ARC) to provide the recreation activity hubs for students.
While the city is working to provide meals and recreation opportunities to students, SPS and SEA are still working on a new contract. The district said in an email to The Center Square that the two sides “are making good progress on negotiations as they worked throughout the weekend but have not yet reached an agreement.”
The district added that it plans to start school immediately after an agreement has been made.