Help make sure local kids don’t face summer hunger without school meal programs

The name plate outside her door reads ‘School Counselor.’ But at Logan Elementary, Ms. Jessica Holloman is a problem solver.

“They knock all the time,” she said through a smile as the sound of kids knuckles on her door set the backdrop for our interview.

From problems that happen in the classroom to on the playground, Ms. Holloman is there for the kids she lovingly refers to as her ‘friends.’

But there’s one problem she can’t solve.

“The hunger piece is a really big deal,” said Holloman.

More than 9 out of every 10 kids at Logan–92 percent of the student body–uses the free and/or reduced-price meal program. For many of them, that means breakfast and lunch are provided by the school five days a week.

“Most of our kiddos would probably not have breakfast if it wasn’t offered at that reduced price for our families.” She adds that the majority of students don’t bring their lunch from home, either.

When the weekend rolls around, some of the families that rely on the school meal programs need a little extra help.

“[The students] ask everyday. ‘Is food going home today? Is food going home today?'” said Holloman.

On Fridays, food does go home. Volunteers with a Second Harvest program called Bite 2 Go drop off bags of healthy meals for kids to take home for the weekend.

“They will never leave without it. They don’t forget it, they never leave it outside their classroom on accident, and they’re always asking if we have more.”

Bite 2 Go bridges the two-day gap between Friday and Monday. But what about the three-month gap between June and September?

Holloman says as soon as students know summer is near, some get anxious about the uncertainty they know is coming.

“I’ll have kids, on the last day of school, asking ‘is food going home today?’ And I’ll say ‘No friends, we’re all done. That’s all for this time, we’ll have to wait for next year'” explained Holloman. “And there is a lot of stress, and some fear for them about how they’re going to get those meals.”

With their most reliable food source taken away, some kids spend the summer months wondering where their meals will come from.

That’s where you come in.

KXLY4, Second Harvest, and Yoke’s Fresh Markets have teamed up for the ‘What’s For Lunch?’ food drive, to help make sure kids in the Spokane community can focus on going swimming and playing catch this summer, rather than worrying about when they’ll eat again.

Now through Friday at all local Yoke’s locations, you can purchase a $5 or $10 bag that’s already filled with healthy food. The donations will be distributed by Second Harvest throughout the summer to families that rely on free and reduced-price meals during the school year.

“I think sometimes we’re apprehensive to give to things when we’re not sure that there’s a need,” said Holloman. “And food during the summer time for our kids, is definitely something they need.”

Cash donations are also accepted. Second Harvest says every dollar donated is turned into five meals.