Talawanda helps children with food insecurity


Volunteers prepare food packages to be distributed to Talawanda students during the coronavirus shutdown of the school buildings. Photo provided by Talawanda School District

By Emma Kinghorn

As the coronavirus outbreak shuts down schools and businesses adjust to new restrictions and guidance, Oxford’s community has found ways to continue supporting the people most affected by these changes.

Talawanda School District (TSD) is taking steps to protect students experiencing food insecurity during the virus outbreak. As some students and families rely on the meals served at school throughout the week, TSD has created a meal package pick-up system to supplement these meals.

Available for pick up from 12 locations around the community, these food kits hold nonperishable meals and snacks, as well as ingredients to make more meals. “We are really grateful and thankful for our employees that have volunteered to go to these sites and pass out food,” said Holli Morrish, director of communications and public engagement for the school district.  

TSD has continued to order food from its regular food distributors, but has also found many local partners reaching out to see how they can donate and help as well. For those in the community who wish to help, Morrish asks individuals to donate nonperishable food items through the BackPack Program run by St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Besides food items, the volunteers also need plastic grocery bags to help package the kits. A donation box has been set up at the door of Kramer Elementary School, 400 W. Sycamore St., for any in the community able to donate.

Meals on Wheels also has adapted its practices to continue service to its recipients. After Friday, March 20, the program will switch to using frozen meals and nonperishable foods to continue its food services.

To further protect its patrons from virus exposure, Meals on Wheels will now drop off multiple meals per trip. Executive Director Steve Schnabi said in a public email that the organization is prepared to continue supporting its current patrons, as well as other Oxford residents who are 50 years old or older.

The Talawanda Oxford Pantry & Social Services,  (TOPSS), is increasing the amount of food available for patrons on each visit. Its Summer Harvest Program, which allows 16 additional pounds of food per family for each member under 18 years old, began early this week. When visiting the pantry, patrons are encouraged to keep a safe amount of distance from other shoppers and staff.

TOPSS will maintain its normal shopping schedule of Monday and Thursdays 5 to 7 p.m. and Saturdays 2 to 4 p.m.  TOPSS is asking for continued food and monetary donations, as well as increased volunteers who are not in a high risk COVID-19 category to help with donation pick up.