Thousands of JCPS families lean on community to make it through winter break

Thousands of JCPS families lean on community to make it through winter break

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Long lines of cars at JCPS food distribution sites Thursday left many families going home empty handed because the district ran out of food quickly.

One JCPS mom, Brittany, asked her friend to get in line for both she and her two boys while she was helping them with Non-Traditional Instruction at home.

“She called me at about 11:35 a.m. and she said they said they were out,” Brittany said. “They told her to go to food banks and gave her ideas of where we could go to get food. It’s just not an option for us. There’s not one super close to us.”

Brittany doesn’t have a car, which limits where she can go.

“By the way we get everywhere is on feet,” she said. “And I have just enough money coming in right now to cover our rent and barely our electric bill, and then after that I have no money. So, the food program has been a big help to make those ends meet.”

She said since NTI started, it has been hard to work and make money while her kids are at home.

“[The school year] was my time for me to be able to go to work whether it was babysitting or cleaning houses just to be able to make ends meet,” she said. “Now that [the kids] are home and I’m having to help; I don’t have an option to go out and work. School was where I knew they were safe for the day; they were taken care of. And now I don’t have that option and I have to think outside the box.”

Renee Murphy with JCPS says the district serves up 100,000 meals and snacks to students on a typical school day. Since schools closed in March, JCPS has given out food twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays to families who need it.

“I don’t like to take advantage of programs if I don’t personally need them,” Brittany said.

She has been utilizing the JCPS food distribution sites.

“So, at the beginning of the month we don’t use it because I don’t want to take from someone else who might really need it. But at the end of the month that’s when we really need that assistance to get through the rest of the month.”

Families are no longer required to prove their children go to JCPS to receive food since the district is now under a program that allows any child under the age of 18 to be served.

“We want to make sure we can give food to the child who may be a JCPS student and to the siblings who may be younger that are in need as well,” Murphy said. “We think that is an important thing to make sure we have in place and it is a federal regulation under the program we are operating under right now.”

Ahead of a two-week winter break, JCPS handed out more than one million meals to families in Jefferson County.

“We are thankful families know it’s an option that’s available to them and we hope they will take part in this in the new year,” Murphy said.

The district helped around 20,000 families on Thursday.

“We produced about 75,000 pounds of chili we gave to families [on Thursday], so we are thankful we were able to provide that for our families and give them two weeks’ worth of food while we are closed for winter break.”

Within an hour and a half most sites ran out of food.

“I think was just a show of our community, really coming out taking advantage of this opportunity,” Murphy said. “It certainly was an overwhelming response at our distribution sites we understand families had questions about what happened yesterday. and we ordered this food a while back based on numbers of people coming to sites several months ago. So, we are thankful families know this is an option for them and we hope our families will take part in this in the new year.”

While thousands of families were helped, families like Brittany were left in a bind, wondering what to do.

“That put us in a big predicament,” she said.

“So I had a couple people reach out to us to help us help make ends meet food wise for the end,” Brittany said. “I actually had a lady drop off a load of groceries right before we came over here.”

She said the groceries dropped off were more than she expected and she’s incredibly grateful for the help. She also said she knows there are many families who still are in desperate need of food.

“I’m very grateful she did bring that because she helped fill that void, and there needs to be so many people just like her fill that void for families like us,” she said. “I’m sure there are a bunch of children out there right now that don’t have the opportunity to have loving parents where they can make sure they are fed. If you see a child that is hungry, help them. If you see a family that may need, or you are just at the grocery store and you see a family that could use the assistance, pay for their groceries. You know, just try to do whatever you can. Not just because it’s the holiday season. Keep it going! It needs to continue to where the whole community helps to where there aren’t kids in this position.”

Dare to Care told WAVE 3 News they are also available to help people who need food assistance.

Click here to find a location near you. Dare to Care encourages people to call ahead.

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