If you need a reminder that there are good people not only in the world, but our own backyard, look no further than Anne Jones, who spearheaded the program Snacks for Schools. She saw a real need in the community and enlisted the help of her family and volunteers to meet it.
Being married to a teacher of many years and working with educators as a realtor, Jones set out to support the teachers and students at Tacoma schools.
“I knew that teachers were buying food for their students out of their own pocket on a regular basis,” she said. Jones starting out providing snacks for spring standardized testing, and since then, the program has evolved. Now they partner with local businesses in snack drives (pre-COVID) and have even held events with the Tacoma Rainiers raise awareness.
“When COVID hit, we weren't sure what the program would look like," said Jones. "But we knew the need would be even greater than before."
They took about a month to readjust, and then started back up in April 2020.
"We starting loading bags of food in our carport and doing weekly deliveries, and we've been going ever since," she said. "Once the bags are prepped, we deliver them to our friend Megan Clark and she distributes them to area families at Baker Middle School. We chose that location because principal Amy Latimer was supportive of the project, and also because it's in a South Tacoma location that lacks its own food bank."
At the time Snacks for Schools started, Tacoma had more than 20 elementary schools where 70% of students participated in the free and reduced lunch program. Suddenly, with school closed and no student access to those meals - the program shifted its focus to sustainable, pantry-friendly food kids can make at home.
“Ultimately, the goal of Snacks for Schools was to lighten the load on our teachers, and let our kids know this community cares about them,” said Jones. “The pandemic hasn't changed that, just made it more urgent. Almost every school I know can use more food to share with their kids. This would be a great time to let teachers know you appreciate them!”
When asked what can be done to pitch in, Jones suggests reaching out to schools in your district, asking what specifically they need and what can be done to support local families.