PORTLAND, Ore. — On Tuesday, Portland Public Schools, the largest district in the state, started up its meal service for kids who are out of school and need food.
“Our team knows hunger never takes a break,” said Whitney Ellersick, senior director for nutrition services for Portland Public Schools.
Families were able to visit 15 locations across the school district. Parents were also able to pick up activity packets for their kids to keep them occupied and learning.
The shift from hot meals in a cafeteria to cold grab & go breakfasts and lunches is big for lunch staff. But the work is really important, especially since 30% of families in the district qualify for free or reduced lunch.
“A lot of our families were anticipating their children being in school and a lot of our families rely on our regular meal services at these locations for breakfast, lunch, and sometimes even after school supper,” said Ellersick.
She said every breakfast includes an entrée. It might be a cereal, a muffin, or banana bread, with fruit and milk.
Lunch for the kiddos might include a peanut butter and jelly or some other deli sandwich, maybe hummus, yogurt and granola, and a snack pack with maybe pretzels and cheese.
Ellersick said any child can show up to get free breakfast and lunch. It doesn't matter whether they qualify for free or reduced lunch, or even if they attend school in the district.
“Especially during this time where we know some families have been impacted by having less work or less hours. We are opening this opportunity for everybody to stop by the school and pick up meals for their children,” Ellersick said.
On Tuesday, district officials said PPS served up more than 2,800 breakfasts and lunches. Families can also pick up food and PPS food pantries. You can find all the details on specific meal pick-up sites and food pantries on the PPS website.
If you're looking for ways to help, Ellersick said people can give to many other nonprofits and organizations that help fill the gaps that PPS can't fill with its free meal program.