UPDATED: Saturday, March 14 at 9:34 a.m.
ASHLAND -- An emergency response fund has been established at Ashland County Community Foundation to help Ashland City Schools and The Salvation Army Kroc Center go above and beyond in providing free lunches to the school district’s students during the upcoming remote learning period.
Following Thursday’s order from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Ashland City Schools announced plans to close all school buildings for at least three weeks starting after school Friday and established a plan to offer meals to students in need. With a request from Gov. DeWine, the U.S. Department Dept. of Agriculture approved two waiver requests to continue school breakfasts and lunches during the closure. Funding will provide for "grab and go" options.
Ohio's Department of Education had shared plans to develop a process to give school districts an unprecedented ability to deliver meals, but with the community's help, Ashland City School District aims to take the emergency lunch program a step further.
"Our plan extends beyond the typical brick and mortar lunch program. For example, when we are driving our bus routes to deliver food this week we will have kids on one side of a street that are ACS and kids on the other side of the street that are Mapleton, or any of our bordering districts, we want to provide meals to all of those families," said Superintendent Doug Marrah. "This is a chance for all of us to work together and help kids that are in needs and families.
"Also, we are partnering with the Kroc (Center) and Associated Charities to provide this food. As this crisis evolves we could get more state/fed dollars than we currently are aware of for this service, if so, we will work ACCF to give the dollars raised to Associated Charities & the Kroc."
Ashland County Community Foundation Executive Director James Cutright agreed to house an emergency fund at the foundation to collect donations.
"There will be considerable local resources expended to make these lunches available to any family needing help during this unusual time, not just those on the free and reduced lunch program, the costs of which are not government-funded," Cutright said.
Communications director for the Foundation, Courtney McNaull expanded on this, too.
"The federal free and reduced lunch program is tiered and has income restrictions. Ashland City schools wants to go above and beyond by offering lunch delivery to any student whose family requests it," McNaull said. "Also as the bus drivers drive their regular routes, there are some streets where kids on one side of the street are in the Ashland district and on the other they are in a bordering district. Ashland wants the ability to provide food for some of those neighbors if needed."
Cutright explained how the fund differs from the already existing “No Child Goes Hungry Fund," an endowment fund, with restricted distributions to preserve principal.
Unlike a majority of the foundation’s funds, the emergency response fund is a pass-through fund rather than an endowment fund. This means the money that is donated will be directed to the lunch program rather than invested to generate annual income.
"This ACCF pass-through fund will be activated any time there is a local emergency, as a way to ensure that charitable dollars can be managed in a low-fee, efficient, credible way, as most folks have tremendous confidence in ACCF’s reputation of doing what’s best for those with needs in Ashland County," Cutright said.
ACCF will take no fees from the money donated to the emergency fund. Only a 3 percent credit card fee will be deducted. To donate to the “Emergency Response (Pass-Through) Fund online,” click here.
Checks also may be sent to Ashland County Community Foundation, 300 College Ave., Ashland.
Food pick-up is available for at Ashland Middle School from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the following dates: Tuesday, March 17, Thursday, March 19, Monday, March 23, Wednesday, March 25 and Friday, March 27. Ashland City Schools will also deliver food to selected locations throughout the school district beginning Tuesday, March 17. Associated Charities and The Salvation Army Kroc Center will provide food on days when the school district does not.
To sign up for food deliveries, families can send text messages through Remind, texting @73h6k to 81010; or call Business Manager Steve Paramore at 419-289-4502.
For further information and updates on the lunch program, visit Ashland City Schools’ website, www.ashlandcityschools.org.
About Ashland County Community Foundation: Ashland County Community Foundation advances philanthropy and improves the quality of life in Ashland County by supporting charitable activities, providing and administering planned giving programs, and serving as responsible stewards of scholarship, as well as individual and organizational funds for specific charities. ACCF has awarded over $15.3 million in scholarships, grants and distributions.