Though some school districts are continuing to feed children through the summer, Food for Lane County has stepped up to the plate where those services are still needed.
“It is for all children and youth ages 18 and younger,” said Food for Lane County Programs and Services Director Rozlyn Fox.
Starting this past Monday, the nonprofit food bank’s Summer Food Program began delivering breakfast and lunch meals to several schools and other sites across Eugene, Springfield, Veneta, Creswell and Cottage Grove.
Creslane Elementary School in Creswell, Cottage Grove High School, Harrison Elementary and Bohemia Elementary schools are among local sites of the program, which will continue through Aug. 28.
Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to noon., to-go packs are provided at the Cottage Grove and Creswell school locations and can be picked up by a simple walk-up or a drive-through option.
Food for Lane County has been running the Summer Food Program for more than 20 years.
“This year is just extremely different,” said Fox. “Our theory behind planning this year was picking up where school districts leave off, which is not what we normally do.”
A mandate from Gov. Kate Brown this year stated that nutrition services must continue through all the school districts.
“I think it really helped a lot of families that were struggling otherwise to continue to receive food for their kiddos,” said Fox.
Food for Lane County worked with the school districts to weigh community needs and sent out about 3,000 meals on the program’s first day, about double the meals from the previous year.
“But that could fluctuate pretty intensely,” added Fox.
The light breakfast and lunch packs contain food such as fruit, cereal, milk, sandwiches, yogurt and pasta handed out by staff outfitted with masks and gloves.
“We have all the precautionary measures in place to keep everyone as safe as possible,” said Fox. “I feel like it’s a very low-risk type of situation — definitely lower risk than walking into a grocery store.”
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the program is passing most of its meals through vehicle windows.
“Normally for the Summer Food Program all the kids sit down and they eat together,” said Fox. “And this year, we’re just doing the exact same thing that the schools were doing, which are the grab-and-go meals.”
Children are not required to be present for a pick-up, freeing parents and guardians to simply drive up and say how many children need a meal.
The program’s site supervisor at Harrison Elementary School Terri Madsen heard of the increased demand in the community and was compelled to do her part.
“I’ve volunteered with [Food for Lane County] before and loved it, so I really just felt called to do it,” she said. “Everybody is so grateful … So it’s really rewarding.”
For more information, visit the Food for Lane County website at foodforlancecounty.org or call 541-343-2822.
A map of meal sites is available online at tinyurl.com/fflc-summerfood.
Support the Cottage Grove Sentinel’s journalism
Every day at the Cottage Grove Sentinel, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our readers, with information that has the power to inform and save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. The Cottage Grove Sentinel’s work is reaching more people than ever, but journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Your financial contribution will enable our staff to continue to offer quality and volume that this moment requires.