Americans across the map are seeing firsthand that if they stick together throughout the crisis, they can get through it.
The Feeding America organization usually provides food used by local schools to fill the Steven A. Hunter Power Packs. These go home each weekend during the school year to make sure students have enough to eat. Amid school closures, they adjusted their scope and brought a huge load to Portsmouth on Tuesday. Mark Hunter and several volunteers were able to prepare 1,300 packs to go out with the food being delivered to area students.
Hunter said that this time things were done differently than what has been done in the past. Because an executive order prevents groups of ten or more people from gathering (in order to lessen the spread of covid-19), the people at Free Store Food Bank were not able to individually pack this time.
Scott Dutey, Portsmouth City Schools Superintendent and Darrell Nickles of Life Point Church had been asking how they could help, and this was the perfect opportunity.
Dutey offered the use of the old Portsmouth gymnasium to prepare the packs, and they created a schedule to have two shifts work, so as not to have too many people together. There was a second group of churches that were planning to work on the second shift.
Hunter stated that the groups would need to pack 1,300 Power Packs for two weeks’ worth of the power pack food. Luckily Hunter said that some of the group had been in Cincinnati and saw firsthand how these packs were formed, and the group got to work. Hunter was able to assure that they had applications that needed to be filled out with significant questions and that all their people were wearing gloves.
Hunter said he can never really tell how long it would take to prepare the packs. Sometimes things go fast, while other times it seems to take forever. He said he was overjoyed as he watched this group from Portsmouth and Life Point work together and in such a short time get all the packs ready to go.
Hunter did say that locally, five of his schools pick up their packs monthly, so they already had theirs for this month, which also helped alleviate some of this work. The other eight did not. They had them last week, but they had to pack for the next two weeks. He was quick to add that many people have reached out to him and offered to help in any way they could, but because of the order of amounts of people they had to do things in small groups.
Hunter was amazed by this particular time, because of how quickly the group worked to get them all done.
“It became obvious that they were going to get this done in the first shift group,” Hunter said. “I then had to call my second shift people and say thanks, but we finished in the first shift.”
Hunter stated they would probably not have to do the entire thing the next time, because they now had National Guard people at the food bank, and they will be able to pack and just send them like they always do.
“I can’t say enough for Portsmouth for letting us use the gym and their team of people and the team that came from Life Point. They were just amazing, and we had the photos of how they were to be packed and it worked amazingly smooth. I can’t give enough praise for those folks and what they did,” Hunter said.
He also said he and Virgie were so thankful for those folks and the folks that volunteered and didn’t get to help and he hoped that they would understand.
. “As always with Power Packs, we are taking care of the most chronic hungry kids, we can’t take care of all of them, we just take care of those who are at most risk for going hungry we are just grateful that this was able to continue and we were able to work together,” Hunter said.
Keeping up with the schools and what they are doing to help feed the kids and since Portsmouth was so helpful with this endeavor, The Portsmouth Daily Times also spoke to Dutey about all of the work happening in Portsmouth.
“We have been trying to work with Mark and deliver the packs with our daily food distribution. We have had great turnouts from our folks, teachers and classified folks, we get plenty of people who want to help,” Dutey said.
He spoke about the change of delivering the food on only Mondays and Thursdays and how they are still doing the same amount of meals. Dutey talked about how this has taken up a great deal of time, but it is definitely worth it and the appreciation they get from parents and those who are able to pick up the meals and the kids themselves, it has been good.
“To be able to have contact with them and be able to talk with them for a little bit and when they come to get them, is always good. I feel I’ve done a good job of being creative and staying in contact with associates so all that’s been good,” Dutey said.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740)353-3101 ext. 1928
© 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights