Parkrose families in need receive food for the Holidays

Learn why the Parkrose School District culinary custom-packed food supplies this month for the families they serve in outer East Portland …

Inside the Parkrose Middle School Cafetorium, Parkrose School District volunteers hustle to get pull food box orders for delivery.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Although their campuses remain closed, the Parkrose School District (PSD) has been making sure families in need of nutritional support have been provided for, during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

> To read about their ‘Food Pantry’ distribution earlier this year, CLICK HERE.

With the Holiday Season upon us – and with all five campuses and bus routes that distribute food during “Winter Break” having suspend operation – the PSD Food Services department came up with the idea of providing food boxes to tide these families over.

Their idea became a reality when the Parkrose School District Holiday Food Box Distribution took place on December 18.

Overseeing the distribution operation are PSD Culinary Director Debra Jean Garza and assistant Debra Tompkins.

“Back in August, we found that over 40% of the families in our district were in need of assistance, and were impacted severely by COVID,” remarked PSD Culinary Director Debra Jean Garza.

“So much so, that the entire district qualified under the Community Eligibility Provision (a program of the USDA Food and Nutrition Service) – allowing all children enrolled in the district to eat free for the next three years,” Garza told East Portland News. “Serving these families during the Holiday Season was an addition to our program; and, one we felt, in good conscience, we could not walk away from.”

Volunteers help by delivering food boxes to vehicles, making sure families in need have food to tide them over the schools’ “Winter Break” this year.

“Lunch lady” Racquel Brandow stages food boxes for other volunteers to take to waiting vehicles.

So she, and her assistant Debra Tompkins, as well as the entire PSD nutrition team, committed to set up a special Holiday food distribution at Parkrose Middle School. “Now, we can enjoy the Holidays ourselves, knowing we ‘did Parkrose proud’ by continuing to provide meals during a great time of need,” Garza affirmed.

In total, they provided about 350 meals, for 120 families.

Volunteers Amy Espinor and Kyle Brought hand food boxes to a waiting family.

But, they weren’t handing out standardized food boxes. “Our families preordered from a list of food items, and indicated the amount needed based on the number of kids in the household,” Garza explained. “So, these boxes are custom-backed, based on each family’s needs.”

More volunteers arrived than expected – including several PSD staffers from other departments –to help out that day, helping the effort to run smoothly.

She’s happy to be helping out at this special time of year, says 17-year PSD Food Service worker Lupe Cox.

“Seeing this, today, well – it makes us feel great!” Garza exclaimed.

© 2020 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

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