Battle Creek, Mich. –
Like those in most states, Pennsylvania students are facing an indefinite suspension of the school year due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The school closures are meant to protect student and family health. But what about the health maintenance of students who rely on free school lunches to provide a significant portion of their daily nutrition but are now confined to their homes?
A recent excess property requisition is helping one school district find an answer.
Officer John Mayernik, with the West Mifflin Area School District Police, screens for excess military property for the district through the Defense Logistics Agency Disposition Services Law Enforcement Support Office. He said West Mifflin is new to LESO, but its participation has already paid dividends in the form of two former Massachusetts National Guard field ambulance trucks that the district had requested shortly before the pandemic struck.
“I think [LESO] is an amazing opportunity for law enforcement agencies,” Mayernik said. “This is our first experience with the program, and so far, it’s been great. Our small school police department only had one used Ford Explorer patrol car prior to this program, so having the opportunity to acquire these vehicles for free was a huge help to us.”
Mayernik said that all of the district’s students currently receive free school lunch, and the repurposed trucks are helping disburse the meals among seven sites in two separate communities.
“Right now, each ambulance is helping to hand out 400 meals per day, five days a week,” Mayernik said, noting that the trucks are running well. “All told, the district is handing out approximately 1,000 meals per day at seven total sites.”
He said the trucks have self-contained heaters that run off of the vehicle’s fuel tank and can help provide a warm shelter for volunteers at the food drop sites on cool and rainy days.
“We fully plan on continuing to use LESO for more operational needs,” Mayernik said. “I have nothing but great things to say about [the DLA] staff at Letterkenny. They have all been super helpful at helping us find the right vehicles that we need, and that run well.”