Oxford Area School District food service staff leads effort to distribute food to children in community
By Steven Hoffman
The Oxford Area School District’s food service staff led the effort to prepare and distribute boxes of food to hundreds of children and families in the Oxford community on April 20.
Alison Weir, the school district’s food service director, said that this was the fourth such food distribution effort since the Coronavirus pandemic closed Pennsylvania schools in mid-March.
So far, food for approximately 38,000 meals has been distributed in Oxford.
According to Weir, a group of food service supervisors, including Grace Chamberlain, Peg Rullo, Denise McCormack, Darla Boggs, Kay O’Brien and food service employees Patty Reber, Lisa Brooks, Deb Freeman, Joan Groseclose, Desiree Smith, Valerie Boyd, Jolene Amoroso, Danielle Daughtry, Vicki Mendenhal, Melissa Haftl, and Kristen Wells have all helped prepare the food.
The distribution is handled by a small group of volunteers, mostly school district employees. The school police and the Oxford Police Department provide support, including overseeing the flow of traffic.
The April 20 food distribution took place outside the Penn’s Grove School cafeteria. There was a long line of cars leading up to the school parking lot, and the volunteers distributed the food with practiced and impressive efficiency.
According to Weir, the food being distributed is available to any Oxford student and his or her family who meet the federal guidelines for reduced meals.
Weir said that, because of the devastating impact of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s as important as ever to make sure that children in the community have the food that they need.
“Many families rely on free or reduced-price lunches to provide nutritious meals to their children,” Weir said, explaining that, in some cases, the meals at school are what prevents children from being hungry all day.
Weir added, “In a time such as this, when school is unexpectedly closed, we may be bridging the gap for families in need or families that were not prepared to take on the added expense of a larger grocery bill at this time.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Education requested and received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow eligible schools to continue to serve meals even though the state’s public schools are closed for the remainder of the school year.
Weir said that the food distribution effort will continue at least through the end of the school year in early June.
The next drive-thru meal pickup takes place in Oxford on Monday, May 4 or Tuesday, May 5. Food can once again be picked up outside the Penn’s Grove School cafeteria during that distribution effort.