Program may resume in October
The CNMI Public School System has temporarily suspended its “Grab and Go Meals” program effective last Friday, Sept. 10.
According to an announcement on its website, PSS said the “Grab and Go Meals” program, which was launched on Aug. 30 to provide meals to hybrid-learning students who were doing their classes at home, is being suspended temporarily due to a “lack of participation.” It said the program may resume in October.
In a phone call Monday with Child Nutrition Program director Dale Roberts, he said that for the two weeks that eight meal pick-up locations were open, each would regularly only serve around 10 meals a day. For the sake of feasibility and minimizing the number of unclaimed meals, the decision was made to suspend the program. Roberts, however, assured that the program will come back when needed.
When asked for possible reasons why the program—which was originally set to run this year from Aug. 30 to Sept. 24—saw few participants, Roberts speculated that the pick-up times may have been inconvenient to some parents. The pick-up days and times were from Monday to Friday, 10am to 11am, and Roberts said this timeframe sometimes coincided with the days and times that food stamps were being distributed.
Roberts added that the last time the program was launched, many parents who were out of work availed of the program for their children. This year, Roberts speculated and hoped that these parents got back to work, but said it could be possible that these parents are now too busy to avail of the program.
In March last year, Saipan Tribune reported that over 1,000 meals were distributed on the first day that the CNP launched the “Grab and Go Meals” program.
Roberts further speculated that there are currently many other ongoing avenues of aid, whether it be through stimulus checks, Pandemic-Electronic Benefits Transfer funds, or other current forms of government-distributed welfare that those in need are currently availing of.
According to the PSS website, the “Grab and Go Meals” program was launched this year in response to hybrid learning, as half of a school’s student population do their learning on-campus, and the other half virtually at home. The program was intended to provide access to nutritious meals for students studying virtually since they would have normally claimed their meals if they were on-campus.