The Clark County Food Bank and its partner agencies are gearing up to support hungry kids during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With schools largely doing remote learning, students from low-income families aren’t on campus to receive free and reduced-price meals. And, free food may not be enough reason to travel to a distribution site. Alan Hamilton, president of the food bank, said several groups are trying to make access to food easier than ever at a time when it’s most needed.
“The problem is the kids are not at school where it’s handy and convenient,” he said.
One of the solutions they came up with for homebound students is a food box full of kid-friendly, shelf-stable foods. That means foods that are appealing to kids while still having higher nutrition density, snacks such as protein bars and applesauce and easy-to-prepare food such as pasta and pasta sauce.
“People need food that works for them. In the case of kids, it needs to be handy and ready to eat,” Hamilton said. “It’s a gap-filling piece for whatever other sources of food they have.”
Emily Kaleel, director of programs, said the food bank is still working on an exact start date but is aiming to assemble boxes late next week.
“We’re experiencing some delays on some of the food we want in this box,” Hamilton noted.
While donors stepped up to cover the cost of buying food, the food bank seeks volunteers to help put together and distribute food boxes.
Kaleel said the food bank’s partners for this initiative include the Vancouver and Evergreen public schools, Educational Opportunities for Children and Families, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Washington and Share.
The food bank will also recast its Food Bank Fresh program, setting up pop-up food distributions at schools around the county. Those in need can get produce, dairy, some staples from federal programs and fresh food recovered from local grocery stores.
With people traveling less, Hamilton said the food bank has to use its broad network to get food out to where people live.
Kaleel said the food bank has seen incredible support from the community. She encourages people to check with their neighbors and offer to pick up food for them if needed.