Lincoln County School District, Sodexo Food Service, and Parent Volunteers Connect to Turn Food Otherwise Wasted into Healthy Meals for Grace Wins Haven Shelter
This Thursday, January 23, there will be a celebration and community dinner offered at Sam Case Elementary. Speakers from the parent group, LCSD, and Sodexo will give an overview. Then families can get a full meal off the menu of food served in our schools and enjoy a variety of activities from 30 Otters, Cubby Preschool, Thompson’s Sanitary Service, OSU Extension Service Food Heroes, and others. The meal is free and guests are encouraged to bring a canned or boxed food item to donate to the Food Pantry at Sam Case Elementary. The event starts at 5:30 PM in the cafeteria at Sam Case, 459 NE 12th Street, Newport, OR 97365.
For years, Sodexo Food Service Director, Patty Graves, and Lincoln County School District CNP Manager, Jamie Nicholson, have been concerned about the good food that was being discarded due to Federal Restrictions on re-serving food that had been already offered for consumption at our schools. Patty Graves explains, “In October, I learned about a new waiver form that, when signed, will absolve Food Service and the Lincoln County School District of any liability once the food has been donated.” She continued, “Jamie and I were already trying to think of ways that we can help others in the community now that we have a way to do so. We signed an agreement with Grace Wins Haven shelter in Newport last week. My whole staff is excited and onboard because we now get to fulfill a need locally, not just with our students, but also with people facing food insecurity in our community.”
Grace Wins Haven shelter has a food serving time that dovetails with when lunch service ends at Newport schools. They will receive items not typically donated to the shelter such as fresh salads, fruit, and a variety of vegetables along with entrees from Newport High School, Newport Middle School, Sam Case Elementary, and Yaquina View Elementary.
Students in Newport schools are also working on green initiatives to reduce, reuse, and recycle. One example is at Newport Middle School where composting is taking hold thanks to a partnership with Thompson’s Sanitary Service and students who are part of a Green Team. Another group, at Sam Case Elementary is a club called the 30 Otters: Surfrider Club in Olivia Schroeder’s 4th grade class who sell bees wax wraps and upcycled art from marine debris to promote sustainability.
Meanwhile, local parents, Katie Duzik, and Amelia Vaughan started a Facebook Group called, Lincoln County Families for Healthy School Meals. They approached Patty Graves, and Jamie Nicolson, to learn more about food offered to students to ensure it is nutritious. Katie Duzik, parent of a son at Yaquina View said, “We wanted to educate ourselves and Patty Graves told us about this opportunity to work with Food Services, the School District, and be able to reduce waste in our schools while helping others in need.” Amelia Vaughan, parent of a daughter also at Yaquina View added, “I’m a researcher by trade and so I looked into this more and I felt a missing piece was maybe some parental involvement. When we learned how we, as parents, can volunteer to take the good food that would otherwise go into a landfill over to Grace Wins Haven shelter we were excited to do more.”
There was just one more piece of the puzzle missing necessary to make this food share possible: containers to carry the food over to Grace Wins Haven. That is where Megan Schain, co-owner of Cohen and Park Portraits stepped up. “I got a call from Jamie Nicholson who knew that I am a person who likes to help out. Our business has been working with the Lincoln County School District for 34 years now, and of course, I said we could make it happen. I also am a Rotarian and I asked the group if they’d like to partner with Cohen and Park and they agreed to go in for half of the costs.” The bins were delivered to Newport High School last week and are ready for the volunteers.