SCIOTO — The coronavirus pandemic has brought many canceled events throughout the past year as doors closed to prevent its spread. One thing that unfortunately has continued is hunger for families throughout Scioto County.
As reported last week by the Portsmouth Daily Times, hunger has not dissipated but has rather been projected to have grown. Feeding America projects food insecurity for children to grow to 29.7% this year, up from 26% in 2019.
“Food insecurity has become more prevalent during the pandemic,” Luanne Valentine, CAO Workforce Services Director said Tuesday. “We’re happy that we are able to provide those food boxes. Whenever the Ohio Association of Food Banks reaches out that they have extra food boxes that maybe another county has turned away, we always try to take them.
Just as the Community Action Organization has continued its weekly service in providing food boxes, Scioto County Developmental Disabilities has also been working to ensure its students do not go hungry.
“We’ve been able to continue throughout the pandemic,” said SCDD intern Sylas Akers in a Thursday interview. “Every seven days, our students can expect to receive their meals.”
The process of getting the food from the distributors and then to customers has been altered, but through a CAO grant the program has been permitted to continue.
The work begins on Thursday when Akers drives into town to pickup the boxes and then going back to the Vern Riffe School. There he and others from CAO take to placing the individual meals in grab-and-go grocery bags.
Akers said the students can expect a variety when it comes to their pre-packaged meals, which includes seven lunches and shelf-stable milk. All meals consist of fruits, vegetable, protein, and whole grains.
“The meals are pretty high quality in terms of nutrition,” he said, a Shawnee State University junior studying plastics engineering. He projects anywhere from 50 to 100 people from the youth staff work on the preparation. “They even get Jack Link’s Beef Jerky, which I think is a pretty special treat.”
Distribution sites have changed from 30 varying locations throughout the county, which was the way Akers said the process worked when he started 1 1/2 years ago, to the schools themselves today.
Although now back in school, these dropoff events allowed some normalcy with face-to-face contact, although masked, and to check-in with their students.
“It’s another safety check for us,” Akers said.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3101 ext. 1931, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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