Community support and local grants help Woodland Public Schools offer free summer meals and backpacks

Included is the upcoming annual Back to School Bash where hundreds of backpacks filled with school supplies are distributed to students and families at no cost

WOODLAND — Woodland Public Schools’ Family Community Resource Center (FCRC) receives support from local organizations and community members to offer programs addressing students in need in Woodland and its surrounding area including the upcoming annual Back to School Bash where hundreds of backpacks filled with school supplies are distributed to students and families at no cost as well as the district’s free summer meals program offering free breakfasts and lunches to students under 18 years old all summer long.

Community support and local grants help Woodland Public Schools offer free summer meals and backpacks
Woodland Public Schools’ annual Back to School Bash provides free backpacks filled with school supplies to students in need from Woodland and its surrounding areas. Image courtesy of Woodland School District

In order to achieve its goals, the FCRC relies on the support of local businesses and community organizations. Catherine Pulliam, Woodland Public Schools’ Community, Family and Student Resource Coordinator, applied for and received grants from the Southwest Washington Community Foundation, iQ Credit Union and Fibre Federal Credit Union.

Community support and local grants help Woodland Public Schools offer free summer meals and backpacks
Woodland Public Schools offers free breakfast and lunch over the summer to students in need, and this year local church volunteers are delivering lunches to students with transportation issues. Photo courtesy of Woodland School District

“We couldn’t offer the programs we do without the generous support from these organizations as well as our community,” explained Pulliam. “Seeing the community acknowledge the importance of helping those among us in need is extremely gratifying.”

The grant funds will be used to help put on the district’s annual Back to School Bash on Sat., Aug. 17, 2019 from 3-6 p.m. at Woodland High School located 1500 Dike Access Road, Woodland. In addition to receiving a free backpack filled with school supplies, students and families from Woodland, La Center and Kalama School Districts can enjoy games, activities, prizes and eat a free dinner for the whole family.

“While we had several applicants for the grant, we had previously given to the FCRC for its Back to School Bash,” said Erica Schradella, Digital Operations Supervisor for iQ Credit Union. “We think the program’s great – it’s a win-win for everyone involved.”

Around 2,000 students, parents, guardians and community members attended 2018’s Back to School Bash with more than 700 backpacks handed out at the event and another 66 given out the week following the bash from the FCRC located at Woodland Public Schools. Nearly 175 community members volunteered to help manage the wide variety of activities and events.

In addition to the Back to School Bash, Woodland Public Schools provides free breakfast and lunches to students 18 years old and younger Mondays-Fridays from June 17-August 16 (except for July 4 and 5 when the program is closed)  at Woodland Middle School located at 755 Park St, Woodland. Breakfast is served from 8:30-9 a.m. and lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Adults can eat, too, with breakfast prices at $2.50 per person and lunch at $3.50 per person.

Community support and local grants help Woodland Public Schools offer free summer meals and backpacks
Woodland Public Schools offers free breakfast and lunch over the summer to students in need, and this year local church volunteers are delivering lunches to students with transportation issues. Photo courtesy of Woodland School District

This year, volunteers from five local churches are working with Woodland Public Schools to deliver free lunches directly to more than 30 students in need.

“Our Summer Meals staff is preparing the food and the church volunteers are picking up coolers to ensure safe delivery of the food every day the program is available,” explained Stacy Brown, business manager for Woodland Public Schools.  “We’re extremely grateful for our community’s ongoing support to ensure our students don’t go hungry even over the summer.”

The FCRC also offers a variety of other programs and services to students and families including the free Food Pantries program, assistance finding employment and much more. 

“Our goal is to connect the under-resourced families we serve with the organizations offering help in Clark and Cowlitz counties,” explained Pulliam. “We want to help families line up jobs and get work so they may improve their lives.”

The FCRC establishes partnerships with local nonprofit organizations to provide resources and assistance to homeless students and families as simply locating affordable housing opportunities can present huge barriers to low-income families. Under-resourced families and students who qualify for the McKinney-Vento Education of Homeless Children and Youth Assistance Act, a federal law created to ensure the enrollment and educational stability of homeless children and youth, are the top priority. 

“Our goal is to connect the under-resourced families we serve with the organizations offering help in Clark and Cowlitz counties,” said Pulliam. “We want to help families find stable housing and get work so they may improve their lives.”

About Woodland Public Schools Free Summer Meals and FCRC programs:

For more information about the Summer Meals Program, contact Stacy Brown, Woodland Public Schools’ Business Manager, at brownst@woodlandpublicschools.org or call (360) 841-2715.

The Woodland Public Schools Family Community Resource Center (FCRC) provides resources and services to students and their families in need who live in either Cowlitz or Clark counties. To find more information about services offered by the FCRC or to find ways you can support the FCRC, you can visit the Woodland Public Schools website at www.woodlandschools.org or use the short-link http://bit.ly/WoodlandFCRC, email Catherine Pulliam at pulliamc@woodlandschools.org, or call the FCRC at (360) 841-2718.

Information provided by Woodland School District.

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