Although they’ve used different methods, Northern Utah school districts and their associated education foundations are making additional efforts to support families in need during spring break, a time when schools haven’t traditionally provided services.
In addition to providing education, public schools provide other essentials to students and their families, like free and reduced-price lunch for those who qualify. School vacations can be a hardship for those who rely on these services — one that’s exacerbated by the additional hardship many are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Next week is one of those periods of hardship for some families, since it will be spring break for all Northern Utah districts, including Davis, Ogden, Weber, Morgan and Box Elder.
“We had families in crisis before we had corona(virus),” said Jodi Lunt, director of the Davis Education Foundation. Knowing this, the foundation reached out to these families in Davis County to see if they needed support after the closure of schools and prior to spring break, she said.
Within the past week, the foundation raised and distributed more than $50,000 to families in need in Davis County through “family hardship grants,” which were created to meet that need.
“We had a couple of incredible donors as well as the community who said, ‘I’m really worried about families who have lost those incomes,’” Lunt said.
In partnership with Bountiful Food Pantry, the foundation also distributed 6,000 bags of food, called pantry packs, in the past week, prior to the weekend and break. This need has increased dramatically, Lunt said. Usually, the foundation delivers about 2,800 in a week. Extras were distributed to help families during the school vacation.
Schools are closed next week, but families who need help immediately over the break, especially with food resources, can reach out to the Bountiful Food Pantry at 801-299-8464 or to Open Doors at 801-771-4642, Lunt said.
Those who want to help families in Davis County can donate to the foundation’s work to support families during the COVID-19 pandemic at dsdgive.net/event/804.
Those who aren’t in a position to donate can reach out to the Bountiful Food Pantry, or send a message through the foundation’s online contact form, to volunteer to help stuff pantry packs or get involved in some other way, Lunt said.
Davis, Ogden and Weber school districts, like many districts around the country, have continued providing breakfast and lunch for pickup by their students since school resumed — remotely — on Wednesday, March 18, after a two-day break.
Ogden has offered these meals free to any child, and Weber has offered them free to all students in the district. Davis has offered free meals to students in the district who qualify, and meals are available for purchase as usual by students who don’t.
During spring break, Davis and Weber districts won’t be offering lunch services, but Ogden School District has arranged to provide free pickup meals for any child from 8:30 a.m. to noon daily from March 30 to April 1 at select locations, including Bonneville, Heritage, Lincoln, James Madison, New Bridge, Odyssey and Polk elementary schools, as well as Ben Lomond High School.
Meal services will resume for all districts when students return from the break on Monday, April 6.
Other resources for families in Weber County are listed in a guide created by a variety of Weber County entities to support families, called Guide ‘em Ogden, at guideemogden.org.
Resources in the guide include the Lantern House, at 69 W. 33rd Street in Ogden, which is serving breakfast from 7-8 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. daily to children affected by the closure of schools.
Catholic Community Services, which is also listed in the guide, has suspended its application process for people to access food assistance through the Joyce Hansen Hall Food Bank. A drive-through pantry is open from 9 a.m.-noon Tuesday-Friday near the back of the building at 2504 F Ave. in Ogden.
Nine other food pantries in the Weber area are listed on the Utah Food Bank’s website at utahfoodbank.org/find-a-pantry. On the same site, six are listed in Davis County, one in Morgan and two in Box Elder.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), within the Department of Workforce Services, assists families in accessing food and can be reached at 866-435-7414. The Women, Infant and Children program (WIC) has an Ogden office that can be reached at 801-399-7200.
For assistance with a wide variety of needs, residents can also dial 211 to reach United Way’s Utah line, where they can be connected to resources in their area.