Beth Swafford, a cook in the Fairfield Community School district, comes to the middle school every Monday and Thursday to hand grocery sacks full of food to families in their cars. Throughout the summer she and the other cooks have developed a rapport with the people stopping by, exchanging pleasantries through car windows and masks.
“Some cars you know how many they need before they pull up,” Swafford said.
School districts are still providing food for students and kids in the community, with the goal of keeping children fed until school starts again.
Washington Community Schools is having families fill out surveys for meal requests that can be picked up at nine locations in Washington, the Brighton bus stop, or delivered to specified rural addresses, with pickup beginning from 11:30 a.m. to noon on Mondays and Wednesdays. The service will continue until August, when it will end to clean facilities and prepare for the beginning of the school year.
Washington meal pick-up locations include:
• Bruty’s Carpet Corner, 115 W. 14th St.
• Case Field parking lot, South Ninth Avenue
• HACAP, 2175 Lexington Blvd. No. 1
• Lincoln Upper Elementary School front dropoff, 606 S. Fourth Ave.
• Linn Hollow Mobile Home Park
• Parkside Estates
• St. James Catholic Church, 602 W. Second St.
• Stewart Elementary south parking lot, 821 N. Fourth Ave.
• Washington High School baseball field
At its peak, the district gave out 3,660 meals the week of May 11. Superintendent Willie Stone said numbers have decreased since that time, and the district is currently giving out around 2,600 meals a week. That is more than double what they give out during a normal summer.
Stone said the district has made the program more accessible with more pickup locations and rural delivery. Since the program began March 23, 47,437 meals have been picked up.
“Families have been very appreciative of the program,” Stone said. “For some it’s integral for them to be successful.”
The Fairfield Community School District will serve meals to students through July 31, Food Services Director Stephanie Hawkins said. The district delivers food to rural areas on three different routes toward Lockridge, Batavia and Pleasant Plain, and has four pick-up locations in Fairfield. Food is distributed on Mondays and Thursdays.
Those locations include:
• Fairfield Middle School, 404 W. Fillmore Ave., 11 a.m.-noon.
• Washington Elementary, 406 E. Madison Ave., 11-11:20 a.m.
• Fairfield High School, 605 E. Broadway, 11:30-11:50 a.m.
• Lincoln Center, 401 W. Stone Ave., noon-12:30 p.m.
Hawkins said the district gives out a little more than 500 meals a day, with around 400 being picked up and around 100 being delivered to rural areas. The district has distributed 77,418 total meals since the program began March 19.
Any child age 2 to 18 is welcome to pick up food, Hawkins said, and they don’t have to be students. It’s a privilege to help these kids and give parents some peace of mind, she said.
“Our goal is that we wouldn’t have any hungry children,” Hawkins said.
The Mt. Pleasant Community School District does not offer a summer lunch program and stopped their meal pickup program at the end of the school year. District Superintendent John Henrickson said the district checked with the Mt. Pleasant Fellowship Cup to make sure the organization would continue their summer meal program this year.
Henrickson said the school program would give out around 250 meals a day.
“Under the circumstances, we contacted the Fellowship Cup, and as in years past, they were planning to do their food distribution program,” Henrickson said.
The Fellowship Cup provides services, including food, clothing and housing, to the underserved in Henry County. Fellowship Cup Director Ken Brown said they are currently giving food supplies, including bread, meat, fruit, snacks, treats and drinks, to 36 families with more than 100 children.
The summer program, which began June 1, will continue until one week before school starts. Parents can pick up food on Monday’s from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and should call ahead of time.
“They’re walking out of here with a full bag or two with enough food supplies for the entire week,” Brown said.
Cooks at the middle school said they have had people drive through, walk up, and even head over on a bike. Jane Pohren said one of her favorite things is seeing the kids when they come with their parents to pick up food.
“They get so excited about their lunch,” she said.