PHOTOS: Despite long line, spirits high at free lunch program at Bagdad ES in Leander

Wearing a mask, a pink cowboy hat and pink sunglasses, Leander ISD Child Nutrition Services' Sue Stifflemire indicates to her fellow workers how many students need meals in the next car in line at Bagdad Elementary School in Leander on March 25. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
Wearing a mask, a pink cowboy hat and pink sunglasses, Leander ISD Child Nutrition Services' Sue Stifflemire indicates to her fellow workers how many students need meals in the next car in line at Bagdad Elementary School in Leander on March 25. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)

Wearing a mask, a pink cowboy hat and pink sunglasses, Leander ISD Child Nutrition Services' Sue Stifflemire indicates to her fellow workers how many students need meals in the next car in line at Bagdad Elementary School in Leander on March 25. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)

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Vehicles waiting to get free breakfast and lunch bags for Leander ISD students March 25 snake through the parking lot at Bagdad Elementary School in Leander. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
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In 85-degree weather, two Leander ISD Child Nutrition Services employees carry a table loaded with student meals from the cafeteria to the pickup area at Bagdad Elementary School in Leander. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
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A Leander ISD Child Nutrition Services employee rushes to add juice to free meal bags March 25 at Bagdad Elementary School in Leander. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Leander ISD Superintendent Bruce Gearing directs traffic coming from both directions on Deercreek Lane into Bagdad Elementary School on March 25. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Leander ISD Child Nutrition Services employees help distribute breakfasts, in white bags, and lunches, in brown bags, March 25 at Bagdad Elementary School in Leander. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
On the second day of free breakfast and lunch offerings to students by Leander ISD, 100 vehicles were in line at Bagdad Elementary School when the service began at 11:30 a.m. March 25.

Still, spirits were high.

Children in waiting vehicles hung out of windows waving to passersby and shouting to leashed dogs on the sidewalk. A smiling LISD Superintendent Bruce Gearing—hard to identify in a ballcap and sunglasses instead of his trademark suit—directed the traffic slowly entering the campus from Deercreek Lane. At the other end of the line, more than a dozen LISD Child Nutrition Services employees cheerfully greeted patient families.

The line started behind the school near the cafeteria and formed a large “S” in the parking lot before forking out onto both the northbound and southbound lanes of Deercreek Lane.

Once a vehicle reached the front of the line, drivers would tell LISD Child Nutrition Services' Sue Stifflemire—who stood nearly 10 feet from vehicles while wearing a mask, a pink cowboy hat and pink sunglasses—how many students needed meals. Stifflemire then would relay the number to the meal bag distributors by whiteboard or by holding up fingers.


CNS employees would then load the bags—white ones for breakfast, brown ones for lunch—onto a rolling cart for the driver to pick up without leaving their vehicle.

Near Stifflemire, a line for walkups formed, where one group at a time would walk up to a second cart with their meals.

Each student received a lunch for March 25 and a breakfast for March 26. Tuesday’s Bagdad menu included hot dogs for lunch and cereal and fruit for breakfast.

The free meals, which aims to aid students who rely upon nutrition at school, will continue through at least April 3.

To aid students during that time who rely upon meals at school, LISD is offering free meal pickup from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. during school days at the following locations:

  • Bagdad Elementary School, 800 Deercreek Lane, Leander;

  • Reed Elementary School, 1515 Little Elm Trail, Cedar Park;

  • River Place Elementary School, 6500 Sitio Del Rio Blvd., Austin; and

  • Running Brushy Middle School, 2303 Lakeline Blvd., Austin.


On Tuesdays only, all four sites will also offer breakfast from 7:30-9 a.m.

The free meals are available to all LISD students. Proof of enrollment will not be required, but Texas Department of Agriculture guidelines require that a student be present during pickup.
By Brian Perdue
Brian Perdue is the editor of the Lake Travis-Westlake and Northwest Austin editions of Community Impact Newspaper. A native of Virginia's Appalachian Mountains, he has been a journalist since 1992, living and working in Virginia, Washington D.C., Hawaii's Big Island, Southern California and Florida before moving to Austin in 2019.


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