REDMOND, Wash. — A group of volunteers in Redmond are trying to help families experiencing food insecurity, especially with school out for the summer.
The Redmond School Break Food Box Program is a volunteer, grassroots community group that tries to help families who are struggling to pay for food.
The group used to ask community members to buy an extra box of food before a school break to help families who depended on school meals and wouldn't have their children in classes.
“Families would come to pick up before the various breaks, and then COVID hit, and it was like, we need to do something,” explained Coordinator Kristen Muscott.
“The food banks had closed, the schools had closed, and we knew that our families were hungry,” Muscott continued.
The program saw a tremendous jump in need during the pandemic, and volunteers started a GoFundMe to help raise money to buy food items.
Every month, volunteers try to make sure they can provide a few food boxes and even some recipes to go along with the items.
“They know that we’re here for them, and that’s really just what we want to do," said Muscott. "We just want to fill in the gap here because people shouldn’t have to go to work, to school, or to bed hungry. That’s just not OK. Access to food is just a basic human right.”
Volunteers include food items that families say they need, like oil, rice, eggs, and peanut butter. They believe with people starting to return to in-person jobs or going on vacations, people might forget the COVID-19 crisis is not over for everyone.
“The reality is, the folks who were struggling before are still struggling," said Muscott. "It’s not over for them. They’re still looking for jobs. Maybe they’re not vaccinated yet because they don’t know how to do it.”
The program works with counselors from the Lake Washington School District to get referrals for families that need assistance. Redmond's School Break Food Box Program is currently helping about 150 families, which is a big increase from the number they were assisting before the pandemic.
The program is focused on helping families in Redmond, but the program is part of a larger network of organizations that help families across the Puget Sound region.