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District supports local families with food distribution program

Students can receive multiple days of breakfasts and lunches on the designated pick up day. Photo by Karissa Johnson.

In an effort to help struggling local families in the midst of the COVID-19 health crisis, the Nevada Joint Union High School District (NJUHSD) administration is offering free food pick-ups every Tuesday at two of their campuses.

Food is an aspect of life that many people worried about as businesses started to shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and self quarantining began in California. With 46.6% of students in California eligible for the free or reduced-price lunches according to statistics from the National Center for Education, many Bear River students who relied on school meals for breakfast and lunch were faced with the challenge of getting affordable food. In response, a service has been put together on the Bear River and Nevada Union campuses. 

Bear River Principal Chris Roberts explained why this service was put together.

“The service was put together in an effort to take one more thing off a family’s plate during this difficult time,” he said. “Many families rely on schools to provide, or be an avenue to provide, lunch for their children. Without that service, we knew that this could be a hardship on many families.”

In a column written by the Nevada Joint Union High School District Superintendent Brett McFadden, published in The Union on March 25, he outlined what this service entailed.

“Each bag contains three to four days’ worth of breakfast and lunch meals per student,” he said. “Each container has been sanitized and the food prepared following the strictest federal, state and local health guidelines … By providing this reliable food source, families can direct money on housing and other pressing bills that they might otherwise have had to spend on food.”

Junior Amber Bell expressed her thankfulness that the district is offering this support.

“Luckily it [quarantine] hasn’t been too bad for my direct family,” she said. “ … My uncle is a neurologist in Washington so he is kind of freaking out, … so it is a little stressful … It is reassuring to have it [the food pick up service] in case something goes wrong. I’m very glad the school has found a way to provide this service.”

Junior Tanner Roberts, who helped run the service alongside his father Principal Roberts, explained how this helps the community.

“It is helping the community by providing everyone who gives and receives lunches joy and happiness,” he said.

Senior Justin Roberts commented on the importance of this service.

“There are some families who could not support a lunch everyday for their child or children due to their financial status, and the reduced or free lunches was a great way to relieve that pressure from themselves,” he said. “I am so glad that Bear River is trying to continue this support by giving out free lunches for those who need it since these high school kids are now stuck at home and still need to eat.”

Tanner Roberts emphasized helping other community members through this time.

“I hope to help others in quarantine by continuing to play my part by helping others in need,” he said. “I encourage everyone to help others. This can be something as simple as practicing good hygiene.”

Principal Roberts continued to describe how families can benefit.

“The food being provided is quality and our kitchen staff does an excellent job putting meals together,” he said. “The credit really goes to them (our kitchen staff) for coming in and doing this for the families in our area … I want to personally thank our wonderful kitchen staff for putting meals together and being so willing to do so. Every time I’ve seen them they have smiles on their faces. They’re thrilled to be able to help during these tough times!”

Superintendent McFadden wrote about the additional possible ways the district will work to help others in need.

“The district has also reached out to various community organizations to explore how we can collaborate with each other to help distribute food and other necessities to families in need,” he said. “We hope to announce some of these additional services over the next couple of weeks.”

As this is a difficult time for all families, Principal Roberts assured that the school staff is willing to help in more ways than providing food services.

“Our entire staff is at our community’s disposal,” he said. “Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for whatever your needs may be. We all respond to email, some better than others, but are here to help. You’d be surprised at the number of resources we have that can assist families in need. All you have to do is ask.”

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District supports local families with food distribution program