The Lafayette Parish School System is in the process of switching to the Meals To You program to deliver food to students in need while school is out. It's being handled through the USDA and a Texas company will be managing it. That decision has led some business owners to ask why a local restaurant or supplier was not used at a time when they could use the influx of additional money. In an email obtained by KPEL news, one business owner claimed the contract could be worth as much as $80,000 per week. That figure has not been confirmed by the district.

The decision appears to be two-fold: cost and logistics.

Late last month, state officials gave school districts a few options to facilitate feeding students. There was only one that would not require the district to fund the program on its own. (Free and reduced lunch programs are subsidized by government funding.) The district also had no way to practically deliver the meals to students. The infrastructure to carry out a delivery program is just not there.

School board member Justin Centanni sent KPEL this statement:

We encourage all local restaurants and food suppliers to apply to become a vendor for this at-home meal delivery company. Personally, I would love to be able to hire local restaurants directly to supply food for our students, but there are two major obstacles preventing that: 1., federal funding hurdles complicate the payment for this food, and 2., LPSS is not a logistics company capable of coordinating deliveries in-house. We hope this is a solution for restaurants struggling to keep their doors open, it's certainly a solution for our children.

In a press release from March 31st, the district asked local suppliers and restaurants to apply to be a part of the program. Many have done so and Centanni tells KPEL News they may still be used. The program will serve thousands of students in the state and the company in Texas will likely need support here on the ground.

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