What Indiana’s stay-at-home order means for school meal distribution and day cares

Families will still be able to pick up food from their school districts and take their children to day cares when a statewide stay-at-home order goes into effect on Wednesday.

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the new restrictions on Monday, ordering Hoosiers to stay in their homes through April 7. People will only be allowed to leave for work or permitted activities, including grocery shopping, taking care of others, and seeking medical help.

“The next two weeks are critical if we are to slow the spread of COVID-19, and we must slow the spread. You must be part of the solution, not the problem,” Holcomb said in a televised address.

Day cares are considered an essential business, according to an FAQ by the state. And schools will still be allowed to package food for families to pick up and take home.

Indianapolis Public Schools is handing out free meals five days a week to any children 18 or under through spring break, even if they don’t attend district schools. A district spokeswoman confirmed Monday that IPS is not planning to reduce or change its food distribution as a result of the stay-at-home order.

In addition to distributing meals at several schools, Wayne Township is delivering meals to more than 1,000 bus stops. In many other township districts, families can pick up meals for several days at a time.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett noted in a press release that volunteers will still be allowed to travel to help at places such as food banks and food pantries.

The stay-at-home order comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in Indiana rose to 259 Monday morning — more than 50 more cases than the day before, according to the state Department of Health. Seven people have died.

Marion County has seen the fastest spread, Holcomb said. On Friday the county had 47 cases — and by Monday, there were 110 reported by the state. Three Marion County residents died, Holcomb said.

All schools in Indiana are ordered to remain closed through May 1, and could possibly stay shuttered through the end of the school year. All standardized testing has also been canceled.