On May 23 Plano West Rotary Club concluded a year of assisting Plano ISD with drive-through meal distributions to Plano families experiencing food insecurities.
The distributions occurred at three Plano campuses – Armstrong Middle School, Bowman Middle School and Rowlinson Community Natatorium (next door to Williams High School).
The North Texas Food Bank provided the food for the distributions at Armstrong Middle School. Every family received 15 pounds of fresh produce and 20 pounds of shelf-stable items such as pasta, pasta sauce, tuna, vegetables, fruit, juice, rice, beans and cereal.
Minnie’s Food Pantry, in collaboration with PlanoUp, a program proactively serving at-risk youth that is funded by a Texas Health Resources grant, provided the food for the distributions at Bowman Middle School and Rowlinson Community Natatorium. Every family received a box of shelf-stable items similar to the Armstrong drive-throughs.
At each campus, Plano West Rotary Club (PWRC) volunteers helped gather and organize food items for each family, assisting Plano ISD staff, parent liaisons, and in some cases the members of another service organization. Volunteers also communicated with drivers and placed food boxes inside vehicles as they moved through the line.
PWRC’s service project lasted 10 months, from August 2021 through May 2022, with club volunteers attending two or three meal distributions per month, for a total of 28 unique dates of service. Volunteers served a total of 123.5 hours throughout the 2021-2022 school year! The impact of the meal distributions was substantial. On average, 411 families per month received food.
The year-end total of food distributed at Armstrong was 69,335 pounds. The year-end total for Bowman and Rowlinson was a combined 1,840 boxes of food. The overall total value of food distributed over the 10-month period was $166,120.
Rotarians James Thomas, also a Plano ISD employee, and Katherine Goodwin, a longtime Plano ISD volunteer, served as this project’s leaders every month, and this came right after they led meal distributions throughout the summer months of 2021. In addition to behind-the-scenes work, Katherine and James were present at nearly every one of the 28 food distributions over the past school year.
Plano West Rotary members that also served this project included Jenelle Berry-Cook, Mollie Hancock, Roxanna Iannarelli, Isabel Segovia, Jo’anna Snowden, Fred Bemenderfer, John Stafford, Marty James, Brian Joseph and Jennifer Shertzer. Many non-Rotarians from the community served alongside PWRC as well. These drive-through meal distributions support two of Rotary’s Areas of Focus: growing local economies and supporting education.
Volunteers helped Plano ISD provide families with healthier meals, allowing those families to reallocate the dollars saved toward other living expenses. Alleviating food insecurity also proactively helps youth who might be at risk for depression and anxiety, according to a Plano ISD June 2021 press release. And students who go to school hungry are statistically less likely to learn as well in class. Volunteers being there also meant more Plano ISD staff were able to direct their attention to working with students or on other necessary tasks instead of assisting with the meal distributions.
PWRC looks forward to helping Plano ISD with food drives again at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year. “With the prices of everything going up, especially food, this kind of support will be essential to our students and families for making educational and economic progress,” said Katherine.