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Food for thought: Meal deliveries keep Mon school drivers busy this summer

Before he became director of transportation for Monongalia County’s school district, Tony Harris drove a school bus for 20 years in Preston County.

Which meant mountain roads and mountain winters, heavy on snow and ice.

A driver’s-seat portfolio like that probably also means he’s a virtuoso behind the wheel of, say, a forklift … right?

“Uh, I don’t know if I’d go that far,” he said.

Harris is getting plenty of practice this week, however.

His mornings and afternoons of late have been spent steering the specialty vehicle in and around the district bus garage on Chaplin Road.

It’s his self-appointed job to load and unload the pallets of food his drivers are delivering across Mon as part of the district’s summer feeding program.

“Our drivers are busy enough,” he said, “and I’m not going to ask them to do anything I wouldn’t do.”

This summer, it’s the district’s self-appointed job to continue meal deliveries it began last year at the height of the pandemic.

Nearly 1,000 families have signed up for the service, the transportation director said.

Five-day meal boxes include five bowls of cereal and five cereal bars, he said, along with three Chef Boyardee variety packs and two pepperoni rolls.

A five-pack of vegetable juice boxes are also in that offering, plus orange juice and milk, in the half-gallon.

One-day packs feature a serving of whole fruit, a cookie pack and a whole grain chip bag in the Tostitos, Doritos or SunChips varieties.

The district is partnering with Pantry Plus More for the summer, Kiehl said.

Five-day meal boxes will be provided Saturdays through Aug. 14 at the Ridgedale Elementary bus loop on Goshen Road, Healthy Heights Mobile Home Park in Morgantown, Beulah Baptist Church at Wana and Pantry Plus More in Westover.

Saturday times are 10:30 a.m. at the Ridgedale bus loop and 10 a.m. at Beulah Baptist Church and Pantry Plus More.

The five-day packs will also be delivered at designated school bus stops through Friday, as part of the district’s “Magic Cool Bus” promotion, Kiehl said.

Breakfast and lunch will be served to students taking part in Summer Avalanche programming July 6-29 across the school district, the director said.

Skyview Elementary also serves hot lunch to any student interested, while offering to-go meals daily from noon-12:30 p.m., while supplies last.

For more information, call the Child Nutrition Office at 304-291-9210, Ext. 1521.

“We’ve tried to offer a little bit of everything,” Kiehl said.

“And we sure don’t want to see any kid go hungry.”

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*Note: This story has been updated to reflect corrections, due to a source error. The bus loop at Ridgedale Elementary School on Goshen Road is a meal distribution point.