Pawhuska-area families receive food assistance from Baylor Collaborative

Robert Smith

Families in some very rural portions of the Pawhuska school district began last week to receive shipments of meals for their children from the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty.

The organization, based at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, in March joined with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, McLane Global (a food and logistics company), PepsiCo and others in a national effort called Emergency Meals-to-You, which delivers food boxes to students in a limited number of rural schools closed to help curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

In an April 15 letter to Pawhuska Public Schools, the Baylor Collaborative explained that the expansion of its Meals-to-You program becuase of the COVID-19 response was proceeding at a rapid pace.

“In 2019, Meals-to-You began as a relatively small demonstration project, but in one month has delivered over a million meals and is working with over half of the states in America,” the Baylor Collaborative said. “Scaling up an emergency intervention so quickly and with so many moving parts has been a challenge, but our team has been working nights and weekends because we share your passion and urgency for getting food to children and families in need. We appreciate your patience with this process and the ways that you are walking alongside us to make this happen.”

Beverly Moore, assistant superintendent of Pawhuska Public Schools, explained that PPS qualified to enroll some of its families. She talked to families and helped them sign up for the program.

Moore said that families were eligible if they met criteria regarding where they live and their economic strength. Family homes had to be very remote from Pawhuska, and the families either had to have a child or children enrolled at Indian Camp Elementary, which offers student meals free of charge through what the USDA calls the “Community Eligibility Provision;” or families had to have a child or children enrolled elsewhere in the school district who were eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

Moore explained that meals would be mailed to enrolled families every couple of weeks. She said more than 20 families decided to enroll in the first week of her recruitment effort, but Pawhuska Public Schools would be free to add to the number of families included.

The Baylor University meal outreach for Pawhuska is to provide food up through Aug. 17, Moore said. Aug. 20 is the scheduled start date for the school district’s fall semester, according to the district’s 2020-21 calendar.