When Brookside Schools came on board as a Mobile School Distribution site in late 2019, Second Harvest was serving 50 families per month in the school gym at Forest Lawn Elementary. The energetic and passionate school staff was eager to help, and we knew that we could have an impact in that pocket of Lorain County.
Cue the pandemic. Many changes in the school environment. The distribution model went to outside, drive-thru, no-touch. Ohio National Guard assistance. More people visited the distribution. The location changed to safely handle the larger numbers.
Fast forward to mid-2021. The New Normal. The distributions have remained drive-thru, no-touch but have relocated to Brookside High School. The National Guard is no longer on-site to assist. The numbers have remained steady at around 300 families per distribution throughout the pandemic.
From the start, through the height of the pandemic until now, the Brookside organizers and volunteers have remained steadfast. Andrew Smith, district social worker for Sheffield /Sheffield Lake City Schools organizes the 25-30 school volunteers working each distribution. “Our volunteers have stayed on task and become resolute in their work to help feed our kids and the community,” shares Andrews.
This can be seen throughout many of the school districts running mobile school pantry distributions. School organizers and volunteers are committed to helping. Flexibility is part of the process, and numbers remain higher than what we saw pre-pandemic.
Sam Flores, Director of Program and Partner Services, and her team coordinate the mobile pantry program for Second Harvest. “These groups have remained resilient and committed to helping their students and families. We plan on continuing the drive-thru, no-touch distributions as we begin this new school year, but we will keep an ever-watchful eye on the situation. We have amazing partners and we’ve demonstrated our ability to adjust to fill the need.”
This is the new normal. For now.
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