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Workers prepare meals for children throughout much of South Louisiana at the Three O'Clock Project's kitchen at Celtic Studios in Baton Rouge.

The deadline for families of East Baton Rouge Parish schoolchildren to sign up for special home delivery of school meals for the Christmas break has been pushed back to noon Friday, nearly a day later than the one originally set.

The parish school system delivered nearly 8,000 meals to families over the Thanksgiving break and is hoping to reach as many or more this Christmas. The meal delivery service is a special service allowed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a way of feeding hungry children amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

All of the nearly 41,000 students in the East Baton Rouge Parish school district are eligible, as well as students in other schools in the parish who already receive free meals in school. Also eligible are their younger siblings who aren’t yet school age.

Families can sign up by heading to https://tinyurl.com/Y28RHK59 and filling out a short sign-up form.

Same as last time, Baton Rouge-based TDP Group, which does business as Focus Foods, is preparing the meals and delivering them. For the past two months, Focus Foods has been delivering meals to Baton Rouge school children who have opted to learn strictly virtually from home. Currently about 1,500 children receive these meals.

Unlike at Thanksgiving, those participating now will receive not just one, but two sets of meals, said Nadine Mann, director of the Child Nutrition program. It starts with a 10-day pack prior to Christmas and a five-day pack before students return from Christmas break, Mann said.

Each pack is a bundle of frozen dinners along with other food items that work out to five lunches, breakfasts and suppers, as well as snacks. Focus Foods will deliver the food boxes between Saturday and Wednesday.

In addition to East Baton Rouge Parish, Mann is also organizing meal pickup points, though not home deliveries, in neighboring Livingston and Tangipahoa parishes also through Focus Foods. She said she's acting at the request ot the Louisiana Department of Education.

The five participating sites will be handing out one set of meals before Christmas on Dec. 21 or 22, and one after Christmas on Dec. 28 and 29. Eligible Livingson residents have a special signup formas do Tangipahoa residents.

Here are the distribution sites and dates:

  • Abundant Life Church, 206 Edgewood Drive, Denham Springs (Livingston Parish residents only)
  • Old Courthouse, 20180 Iowa St., Livingston (Livingston Parish residents only)
  • Independence Depot Pavillion, 269 E. Railroad Ave., Independence (Tangipahoa Parish residents only)
  • Mission Church, 41347 I-55 Service Road, Hammond (Tangipahoa Parish residents only)
  • Zemurray Park, 600 S. Oak St., Hammond (Tangipahoa Parish residents only)

Email Charles Lussier at clussier@theadvocate.com and follow him on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.