School, Churches, Community Team Up To Feed Area Kids

Waterville Community Church associate pastor Dustin Schmidt and member Brian Billings bag food for students who need nutrition through weekends. Churches, the schools and area leaders came together to provide additional food as schools are closed. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Dustin Schmidt, associate pastor of Waterville Community Church, and Brian Billings, an Anthony Wayne Local Schools administrator and member of the church, maneuvered around one another at a safe distance, while filling plastic bags with protein bars, applesauce, juice, soup and crackers.

Every Friday, volunteers fill 90 bags to help qualified Anthony Wayne students get their fill. While the schools are providing breakfast and lunch every Monday, Wed-nesday and Friday, these Friday bags – distributed during the lunch pick up – contain additional food to take them through the weekend.

The Friday distributions started on March 20, just a week after schools were shut down by the governor due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, said Assistant Super-intendent Kevin Herman.

“We first sent e-mails to the families that were invited to participate in the lunch program, but knowing that situations are changing daily due to the COVID-19, the district recently sent an e-mail out to all parents letting them know to contact their child’s principal if they find they have needs as their situations change. The principals will then make contacts with the necessary individuals in order to get their families the resources they may need.”

The additional distributions of food are made possible by Awake Community Coalition in collaboration with area churches, said Awake executive director Amy Barrett. Awake coordinated the effort with the local pastors’ group and the Anthony Wayne Comm-unity Food Ministry, who came together to provide the food.

Herman said the local pastors group stepped up quickly to fill a need.

“They go above and beyond. Among the local churches, the district and so many others that are willing to help out, I feel that no one in our district should go hungry or without the basics in a time like this,” he said. “I’m amazed at how many people have contacted us to ask what we need, whether it’s food delivery or money. Seeing people’s genuine concern for one another and willingness to help each other, truly makes me proud to be a part of this community.”

During the first weekend delivery, one nonprofit donated up to 500 books for preschool through eighth grade, and these were distributed along with the food.

Those who want to contribute are urged to donate food to the AWCFM or contact Amy Barrett at abarrett@awawake.org. 

The AWCFM will hold its next distribution on Tuesday, April 28. To learn more about donating or eligibility, e-mail info@awcfm.com.

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