Families in need of food in the Three Rivers district got a bit of a boost Wednesday when administrators with the school district organized a delivery caravan to bring meals to students in need in the area.
For every 10 students at Three Rivers, four of them depend on the free meals provided at school. So, facing school shutdowns amid the COVID-19 outbreak has been a struggle for some families in the area.
Administrators with the school knew the shutdowns would create a need, just not how much. With empty shelves in many local groceries and more and more industries closing their doors to comply with the Governor's rules, families are low on funds and low on access to quality food.
"You go to Kroger, there's no meats," said Sarah Baldrick, a parent in the district. "There's no toiletries. There's no shampoos. I mean, they're even out of hand soap, so we're using dish soap."
Starting Monday, district employees teamed up with local police, fire and school staff to collect and deliver grocery bags with canned goods, cereal and more for the families who need it most. Snack packs with two meals for kids were included in the package too.
"What we feel we're going to see as we move through this is even our families that are okay financially, with grocery stores, food chains, food supplies, may run into issues," said Craig Hockenberry, Three Rivers Schools superintendent. "We're well stocked."
Administrators organized the food delivery system weeks before the pandemic when, in January, the district was forced to close for a flu outbreak. With 40% of students in the district on free lunch, they'd already planned to have food, nurses and social workers ready if illness closed the school again.
"Our kids lose mental health therapy," said Hockenberry. "They lose medicine. They lose food. They lose resources. They lose structure."
The caravan made stops through the district, giving parents the opportunity to pick up two days worth of food. Hockenberry wants to add at least one additional delivery zone in the form of a drive-thru to get even more families the relief they need.
"It's so nice," said Baldrick. "I came here and I got some milk. I got some cereal that my kids can eat, some peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese. That's great. That's the stuff they will eat and it will last them until we come back on Friday and I don't have to worry about what they're eating."