JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. —Access is taking over a program to provide weekend meals to elementary school kids in Jackson County. It’s called the Access Rogue Powerpack Program.
Access says the long-term goal is to have a presence in all elementary schools throughout the county, to make sure no child goes hungry.
“In terms of schools you see over 20% of students that’s over a fifth of students get free breakfast, for lunch, it’s over 50% of students so the need is great in our schools,” said Marcee Champion, Food Programs Director at Access.
Food insecurity is something many children in Jackson County struggle with. Now, Access is working to provide weekly bags of ready-to-eat or easy-to-prepare food for elementary students. It’s focused on those kids who are food insecure and may not have enough to eat over the weekend.
“A lot of students who rely on the schools for breakfast or lunch may find that the weekends can be challenging in terms of nutrients and calories, so this is a way to get some food to them over the weekend to have their Monday start off on a better foot,” said Champion.
The program began 10 years ago, serving 25 students in one school, now Access is expanding it. It will be in 17 schools in 5 school districts, serving over 400 children a week. The program is funded through multiple community grants, and donations.
“Convenience type foods, easy to prepare things like tuna, cans of chef Boyardee, bars, juice cups that sort of thing those all get packed on Friday some other group of volunteers takes those bags out into the community and drops them off at local elementary schools,” said Champion.
The Phoenix-Talent School District has been participating in the program for the last decade.
“With the fire and the pandemic, there is food insecurity that our families are experiencing every day every week, every month,” said Phoenix-Talent School District Superintendent, Brent Barry.
Superintendent Barry says the need is tremendous. “I know the impact that it has when kids are fed and they come to our school ready to learn it’s gigantic,” said Superintendent Barry.
And Barry, like Access, is happy to see it expand, to help more children in need.
Feeding one child every weekend for the entire school year costs $300. If you’re interested in volunteering or donating, you can visit accesshelps.org