Press Release: Creative Minds Launches Innovative Free-Meals Delivery Program

Free-Meals Program Is First of Its Kind in Washington, DC

May 1, 2020
Contact: Margaret Ward
Director of Grants and Development
(202) 588-0370 x124

To provide its families with crucial food assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, Creative Minds International, a public charter school in Washington, DC, serving students in preschool through eighth grade, has launched an innovative free-meals delivery program for its students and any other children in their households. Through this program, the first of its kind in DC, fresh, nutritious meals from Genuine Foods are touchlessly delivered by Via drivers to Creative Minds families, helping families to stay safely at home during the public-health emergency.

The free-meals program launched on April 15, with Via drivers delivering 1,190 breakfasts and 1,190 lunches from Genuine Foods to 170 children in more than 70 Creative Minds families. The next two weeks of the program saw an uptick in numbers; a total of 7,658 meals were delivered over the program’s first three weeks.

The free-meals delivery program grew out of a concern for students who no longer had access to school meals when Creative Minds switched to remote learning in March, and out of a desire to supplement citywide efforts by DC Public Schools, charter schools, and local organizations.
“We wanted our students to have access to healthful meals seven days a week. We wanted to help ease any financial burdens our families were facing. And we wanted to get food to our families at home and help them to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure as we all work together to flatten the curve,” said Chuck Jackson, executive director of Creative Minds.

The school approached Genuine Foods, a high-volume, high-quality food service provider that shared Creative Minds’ concern for children facing food insecurity, with a vision and a plan to ensure vulnerable populations received healthy and nutritious meals at home. Genuine Foods brought in Via, a developer of innovative mobility solutions for on-demand and pre-scheduled transit, as delivery partner.

The result is a robust, equitable, and economically sustainable program that can be quickly scaled to meet demand. A Genuine Foods meal kit of seven breakfasts and seven lunches—including fresh fruits and vegetables—is delivered weekly to Creative Minds families, for each child in the program. To reduce potential stigma for families, food is delivered in paper bags, similar to delivery methods employed by grocery retailers.

Via is able to utilize its advanced technology, originally developed for on-demand public transit, to serve the community in a time of need by efficiently planning and routing weekly meal kit pickups and deliveries. Through the partnership with Creative Minds and Genuine Foods, Via is also able to provide new earning opportunities for its local driver base while many transit services are reduced.

Creative Minds places no income restrictions on its free-meals service. All families are eligible, and all Creative Minds students may receive meals, as well as any other child younger than 18 in their households. Signing up requires families to share only minimal personal information, which is held in confidence. This low barrier to entry means vital food assistance is reaching the Creative Minds families that need it, in a time of increased hardship.

The free-meals program is funded through the USDA’s Seamless Summer Option. Creative Minds, working with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, was able to channel National School Lunch Program funds into this new meals service and continue its school-year support of students’ nutritional needs.

To ensure that its families receive ongoing food assistance, Creative Minds is continuing the free-meals delivery program for as long as the public-health emergency is in effect in Washington, DC.
“At Creative Minds, we’re working with other schools to expand this free-meals delivery program and reach even more children in DC,” said Chuck Jackson. “We welcome inquiries from school leaders. Creative Minds is part of a strong Washington, DC, education community, and together, in these challenging times, we are stepping up our support for all our students and families.”

About Creative Minds International Public Charter School
Creative Minds International Public Charter School prepares students in preschool through eighth grade for success and well-being in a globalized world. Its inclusive, arts-integrated, international program fosters creativity, self-motivation, social-emotional development, and academic excellence in a diverse community of students. Creative Minds is the only public charter school in the United States accredited to implement the holistic, research-based framework of the International Early Years, Primary, and Middle Years curriculums. The school is located in the historic Sherman Building on the campus of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, DC. Learn more about Creative Minds at

About Genuine Foods
Founded by nationally recognized advocate for healthy public-school lunches and famed NYC restaurateur Jeff Mills, Genuine Foods is a provider of on-site wholesome, high-quality, nutritious meals. Genuine Foods meals are prepared from scratch using the freshest, seasonally available produce and meats. Genuine Foods is Eat REAL® certified, a designation that recognizes their commitment to health, animal welfare, and the health of the planet. Genuine Foods serves schools ranging from preschools to universities, senior centers, and corporate offices across the country. Genuine Foods’ philosophy is that there is no substitute for delicious meals made from the finest ingredients. For more information, please visit

About Via
Via is re-engineering public transit, from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic, on-demand network. Via’s mobile app connects multiple passengers who are headed the same way, allowing riders to seamlessly share a premium vehicle. First launched in New York City in September 2013, the Via platform operates in the United States and in Europe through its joint venture with Mercedes-Benz Vans, ViaVan. Via’s technology is also deployed worldwide through dozens of partner projects with public transportation agencies, private transit operators, taxi fleets, private companies, and universities, seamlessly integrating with public transit infrastructure to power cutting-edge on-demand mobility. For more information, visit