WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba government plans to replace school meal programs by delivering food to low-income families across the province.

With schools cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has issued a request for proposals for companies that could supply meal packages with easy-to-prepare instructions.

The government says with the suspension of in-school classes, it is seeking innovative ways to continue to support students who require meals.

Last year, about 34,000 students received help from a variety of nutritional support programs.

The government says that number is expected to grow given the job losses stemming from the pandemic.

Manitoba schools have not held in-person classes since March 20th, and are not expected to resume for the rest of the school year.