The recent series of Puget Sound snowstorms brought nearly everything to a halt — school and business closures, waste management delays and empty grocery store stocks, to name a few.
With these closures, many families were unable to leave their homes for several days, often resulting in low food supplies.
In the midst of the local standstill, a group of more than two dozen volunteers in the Northshore School District (NSD), came together to serve those families.
Lisa Youngblood-Hall, NSD’s director of communications, said she became inspired to help students in the district after reading an article on social media regarding how low-income students and families are affected during school closures.
“I woke up on Monday [Feb. 11] morning and it talked about just that,” she said. “With all these missed school days and two hour delays and two hour early releases, the kids who are on free and reduced lunch who usually get lunch every day and maybe even breakfast as well, suddenly are not getting it.”
Youngblood-Hall said she called Dr. Michelle Reid, NSD superintendent, and said to her, “Hey, can we do something? We’ve got a lot of students in our district that fall into this category and we have families that just can’t get out.”
Reid replied, “Let’s figure it out and make something happen.”
Youngblood-Hall and Reid originally planned on driving door-to-door delivering food to families. However, as news spread of their idea, the NSD food service coordinator said they wanted to become involved. Thus, Northshore Middle School in Bothell and Kenmore Middle School in Kenmore were opened to package meals for families in need throughout the district.
In the first three days, Northshore volunteers served more than 1,500 meals to families, all part of its Northshore Eats Program. By the end of the week, more than 2,500 meals were served.
“In no time, we had volunteers coming in and wanting to do anything to help. At one point, we had as many volunteers as people needed food,” Youngblood-Hall said. “It’s been really amazing to see the community coming together to help each other.”
NSD solicited the assistance from the Northshore Schools Foundation (NSF) to connect with local restaurants and grocery stores.
Throughout the week, various local restaurants and grocery stores contributed to the cause, including D Loves Chocolates, Kenmore Middle School PTSA, Carolina Smoke BBQ and Catering, Alexa’s Cafe, Safeway Cottage Lake, Village Wines in Woodinville, Chick-fil-A at Bothell Canyon Park and The Pizza Coop & Ale House in Woodinville.
While the middle schools were open for families to come and get food, other volunteers went out to various neighborhoods, trailer parks and apartment buildings and delivered food to families.
“I’m glad we were able to help as many families as we could,” Youngblood-Hall said. “When these things happen again, we can refine a system and have it in place…This really showed us that these families are out in our neighborhoods and anyone can help their neighbor.”