School buses transport meals to virtual learners in Camden

CAMDEN, New Jersey (WPVI) -- A bus pulled up to a Camden neighborhood this weekday morning, but instead of picking up school children, it was delivering meals.

Inside a home nearby, Devynne and Davina Hill were hard at work on their computers and tablets, as students at Leap Academy University Charter School.

Devynne explained, "I'm doing math."

Each day, nearly 3,000 meals are distributed by school buses to students at the Camden school.

The work starts early in the kitchens with breakfasts and lunches prepared and packed.

From there, meals are loaded onto buses.

Support staff and drivers can continue to work in order to carry out this operation.

Mother Tanisha Baynard is grateful.

"Because a lot of us couldn't get to the school, that was the one reason Leap decided we'll make our deliveries to our kids to let them know we're still thinking about you," Baynard explained.

Leap Founder and Board Chair Gloria Bonilla-Santiago added, "It's a very difficult, tough time. Our families are struggling."

Bonilla-Santiago said the school had meal pick-up in the spring but the response was low.

Many needed the food but had no transportation and juggled responsibilities with remote learning.

"Everything we knew about school had to be totally redone. New conditions demanded new approaches," emphasized Bonilla-Santiago.

Currently, Leap students are learning remotely until at least October. These deliveries will continue as long as any students are at home.

"The Leap kids come from very poor neighborhoods, and so we want to ensure that our kids are getting their meals, nourishment, because nourishment leads to good teaching and learning," said Bonilla-Santiago.

"Just like every other family, we're doing what we need to do, and trying to make the best of the times," concluded Baynard.
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