by Sally Blanchard
In La Grande 100 percent of the school district children receive free or reduced lunch.
That meant when school closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school district became the food lifeline for these families.
As word went out that partners were needed to provide funds, La Grande United Methodist Church requested $1,000 through the Grocery Gifts Cards for Families program. That $1,000 was quickly matched through church funds. The local UMC challenged other denominations in town to raise another $1,000 and soon the fund grew to $4,000. Two grocery stores donated $100 each in grocery gift cards and were happy to be part of the project. People shared the challenge on Facebook and it quickly rose to $5,500 as of early May.
Gift cards in increments of $50 have been given to the school district youth in transition coordinator who distributes the cards through the lunch program.
Rev. Taylor Gould knows that when a parent can put food on the table in this stressful time it alleviates some of the immediate worry and lets them focus on emotionally supporting their child. Children can focus better on learning when they have a good diet.
“I’ve only been the pastor here for 10 months and its amazing to see how fruitful the connections I’ve made have become,” Gould said. “There is a spirit of togetherness here.”