With no end in sight for school closures and local unemployment numbers rising exponentially, Outer Banks Food for Thought board members voted to modify their packing and delivery methods to continue serving at-risk students.
Typically, each Thursday would see about 30 volunteers standing shoulder-to-shoulder in assembly line fashion to pack about 350 bags of non-perishable groceries to be distributed in each school. Linda White, Food for Thought board member, describes the usual packing process, “We used to blow it out in 45 minutes. Now, it takes three days. We spend about five hours because we pack in small teams.”
Often, the packing teams are families are already in isolation together. But, when the small teams are non-family members, everyone is gloved, masked, and six or more feet apart. “Not only are our volunteers putting themselves on the front line and doing more with fewer people, but we’ve added more kids to feed,” says Linda White, Food for Thought board member.
Murray says, “The board thought long and hard about how we could continue serving the community without putting our own volunteers at risk. But our kids are the ones who suffer most when schools are closed. With so many parents out of work now, we are providing for about 550 instead of our usual 350 students.”
The process for school children to receive Food for Thought donations has been simplified to match the imminent needs of area families. On Thursdays, any student in need may also request a Food for Thought weekend bag at the Dare County School system’s meal distribution sites. The county continues to distribute its full meal service on from 11:30 a.m. -1:00 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Cape Hatteras Elementary School, Manteo Elementary School and First Flight Elementary School.
“They do not have to be signed up for Food for Thought. On Thursdays, we give bags to anyone who needs help; we don’t want anyone to go hungry while they are trying to learn,” says President, Murray.