Demand on Second Harvest Food Bank is likely to feel strained as it pushes to serve families and children out of school for the next three weeks due to concerns over coronavirus. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Coronavirus: Foodbank working with Clark, Champaign districts to serve households with schools closed

Second Harvest Foodbank will serve roughly 10,000 more households in Clark, Champaign and Logan counties because of schools being closed due to coronavirus concerns, the food bank’s director says.

Tyra Jackson, executive director of Second Harvest, said the non-profit understands and supports the governor closing schools, but also recognizes the strain the closures will place on families.

“We are prepared to do the best we can. There are going to be many families in our area that will need assistance,” Jackson said. “We are being as safe and as cautious as we can. At the same time, we know that people will still need food. We know that people will lose wages — for some, that’s a lack of income in the household.”

Jackson said 100% of students within Springfield City School District, and 50% within Tecumseh Local School District are eligible for free or reduced lunch and breakfast. Under the program, the meals are available daily to eligible low-income students, according to the Ohio Department of Education’s website.

“Those are two meals a day that are now going to be gone for those students,” Jackson said. “So we are estimating that we are going to need to assist about 500 to 750 households in (those two) districts alone. Between Clark, Champaign and Logan it’s about 10,000 households.”

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Tecumseh Superintendent Paula Crew said in a post on the district’s Facebook page on Thursday night she shares Jackson’s concerns about student food insecurity.

“One of our major concerns is lack of food that some children will have as a result of not having lunch available for them since they will not be in school,” Crew wrote. “I can assure you, we have already begun to explore all of our options and will share our plan as soon as it is detailed.”

Jackson said on Friday morning the food bank had been communicating with all local school districts to form a plan.

“We are working on a plan to put together food box drops. We are also working with the United Way of Clark, Champaign and Logan County and calling on healthy volunteers to assist with packaging all of those boxes,” Jackson said. “There will be boxes with dry and frozen foods. There will also be some stuff people can just heat up.”

Jackson said the food bank is still working on the logistics of how the food boxes will be distributed.

“We want to make sure we get them into the right areas that won’t be an inconvenience for the people that we are trying to serve,” Jackson said. “We want people to be able to pick up boxes easily.”

Second Harvest has been already serving more residents than usual in March, after implementing eight mobile pantries across the south side of Springfield, following the closure of Kroger’s store on South Limestone Street.

MORE: Foodbank to deploy more mobile pantries after Kroger closes Springfield store

“It’s a lot that is going on. But that’s why we are here. We are going to make it work,” Jackson said.

Jackson said the mobile pantries will continue but with some slight changes.

“We are going to change the way we do those. Sometimes we can have 75 to 100 people in our lines — which now, we can’t. We are now going to boxing up items and giving those to residents to take those precautions,” Jackson said.

Jackson said since Kroger closed, more residents have been asking to donate food to the food bank.

“But we order our food by the pallet, so monetary donations are the best right now,” Jackson said.

Donations to Second Harvest Food Bank can be made through the food bank’s website at theshfb.org.

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