On Monday afternoon, Marshfield R-I administrators and other volunteers passed out 918 meals to drivers at different locations around town.
It's all part of a meal distribution effort by Marshfield R-I Schools, with assistance from the Ministerial Alliance, to ensure no student goes without food. The six locations include Webster Elementary School, Born Again Church (Highway A), Prospect Church (East Highway 38), Mission Home (Highway W), Elkland Independent Methodist Church and the Northview Store.
"We have lots of kids who need this," said Michelle Mitchell, principal at Webster Elementary School. "This might be when they get their meals, which is while they’re at school. It is important to us to keep that going, so we are doing this every day of the week."
The meals are offered free to every child ages 1-18 in the district through a federal program, regardless of family income. On Monday, at Webster Elementary School, several cafeteria staff from the school district packed 1,000 breakfasts and lunches for drivers. Other volunteers packed meals for the rest of the five locations at Shook Elementary School.
"Shook's kitchen made the lunches and put them in coolers to go to the other locations around town," said Mitchell. "They got the lunches on buses and the buses, along with other employees, went to those locations."
According to Melynda VanNote, director of Marshfield R-I Special Education, if for some reason families cannot drive to the locations, then the Ministerial Alliance will deliver the meals to them. They can contact the Ministerial Alliance (859-2472) to request the delivery.
"We just want to make sure meals get delivered to families," said VanNote. "We tried to do it in different locations within the county so parents didn’t have to drive very far. It's been a wonderful group effort."
The idea started with Mike Henry, assistant superintendent of Marshfield R-I, who contacted the Ministerial Alliance. The Ministerial Alliance then contacted different churches and locations in the area. Mitchell explained last week the administrators broke off into groups to address different needs, including food for students.
"We knew we wanted to get meals to kids, so we divided into groups," said Mitchell. "I ended up in the food group with Mr. Henry, and we kind of went with things from there."
The meals are to-go lunches from OPAA Food Management Inc. Mitchell said they have to be food that does not need temperature regulations once they are fixed, such as chips, sandwiches and fruit. For breakfast, there's cereal, milk and juice. On Tuesday, Rob Schad, one of the cafeteria staff, got up early at 6 a.m. to prepare food for the meals.
"I know it's for a good cause, so it doesn't really bother me," said Schad.
Meal distribution will be from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the pickup locations. Those interested in adding their children to the list can email email@example.com, with the number of children meeting the age criteria in their household and which pickup location they prefer.
In addition, a printed packet of learning resources will be available for pickup at the locations. These packets, which are updated weekly, include lesson plans to help students get their curriculum requirements while at home. For the week of March 30, teachers are working to provide materials that are specialized by grade level or course.
"For the first week, it's pretty generic by grade, like different activities you can do with your family, such as board games, songs and websites to go to," said Mitchell. "Starting this week, teachers are working on creating specific things per grade level. That includes practicing reading, math and everything else that has already been taught. We are learning as we go along and we will make changes as we see they are needed."