KENT, Wash. — It’s been more than a week since educators in the Kent School District began striking, as students’ return to the classroom continues to be pushed back over calls for higher salaries, smaller class sizes and support for students.
But while some students are enjoying the extended summer break, thousands are now facing food insecurity, with more than half of students in the district qualifying for free or reduced school lunches.
Now, two moms are stepping up to feed those students, with the help of a Maple Valley restaurant that has donated some of its space.
It started with 25 lunches for Meg Heron’s local elementary school and has now grown to nearly 1,000 daily meals throughout the district.
But Heron told KIRO 7′s Gwen Baumgardner that it’s still not enough.
“It’s hard for us, just as two moms, to be able to reach everyone,” said Heron. “We’re not really capable of reaching 12,000 kids … We’re doing the best we can, but there’s a lot of kids that are still going without their food.”
Throughout the first week of the strike, parents told KIRO 7 that the school district didn’t step up to offer lunch service, and representatives with the Kent Education Association say there’s no excuse.
“If the school district was ready to go on Thursday, that food was ready to go on Thursday and it hasn’t been distributed,” said Layla Jones, KEA Vice President. “The fact that it’s coming down to a couple of mighty moms is just really telling of where the district stands.”
On Friday afternoon, Heron says she received a call that the school district will start offering lunches at some of its schools next Wednesday, indicating that the strike is expected to continue.
Heron says that until school returns, she and other volunteers will continue to fill the gap.
“We’ve gotten an outpouring of thank-yous from families, from kids, from teachers because they’re just grateful that someone is feeding their kids,” said Heron.
The Kent School District says negotiations to end the strike will continue throughout the weekend.
And as for the food meant for the start of the school year, it was donated to local food banks.
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