Outdoor Cafe 2020 needs volunteers
April 30, 2020
To The Eagle:
Summer is almost here and that means our kids will soon be out of school! Wait, they are already at home in their distance learning programs and have been since mid-March. A few weeks ago, Governor Jay Inslee and Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal announced statewide school closures for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year due to Covid-19. “This closure is guided by science and is our greatest opportunity to keep our kids, educators and communities safe,” Inslee said at a news conference on April 6. One of the most important actions they took was to ensure the continuation of nutritional meals. They allowed limited use of facilities to prepare take-home meals for students’ families to pick up, while carefully following Department of Health social distancing guidelines.
Wahkiakum School District started providing Grab & Go meals to students and families on March 16 and have funds to continue offering the much-needed breakfast/lunch combo meal packs through June 12. Superintendent Brent Freeman reports they have served as many as 350 meals in a week. They also provide 70 supplemental weekend GAP Backpacks to help tackle childhood food insecurity. With more than half the students enrolled in Wahkiakum schools qualifying for free or reduced lunches, the need for a summer food program has always been present, but never greater than today. Covid-19 has adversely impacted the economy state-wide. Jobs have been lost, hours have been reduced and pantries have been emptied.
Last year, local volunteers and generous donations made possible our successful summer lunch program, Outdoor Café 2019. Plans are underway to offer Outdoor Café 2020 this year with the expectation that we will be serving many more meals over a longer period. Partnering with both Wahkiakum County Health & Human Services and Wahkiakum School District, and adhering to directives from our state leadership, we are building a model that protects the health and safety of volunteers and those receiving the meals.
Our ability to meet this challenge depends on two things: volunteers and donations. Both are critically needed. Those interested in helping prepare meals can sign up with Meadow Meeder at firstname.lastname@example.org. For those able to assist by financially supporting this countywide project, please send your checks payable to Kiwanis/Outdoor Café 2020 to Kiwanis, P.O. Box 515, Cathlamet WA 98612. We can do this, Wahkiakum. I know we can.