Riverside students take home 'family packs' for weekend meals

“It is a very sensitive topic. It is hard to say, ‘Hey, I need assistance for food,'" said Heather Cline, Riverside USD 114 school counselor.

Posted: Dec 4, 2020 3:47 PM
Updated: Dec 6, 2020 11:08 AM

(ELWOOD, Ks.) Second Harvest Food Bank is remixing the '12 Days of Christmas' carol.

They aren't asking for a partridge in a pear tree or five golden rings, but a can of veggies and mac and cheese. 

“The 12 Days of Christmas is a little bit of a prompt. It’s really just 12 items that we’re requesting that are the most wanted and needed,” said Melissa Ryser, Development Specialist for Second Harvest Food Bank. 

Here's the 12 item list of desired food:

  1. Can of vegetables
  2. Package of pasta
  3. Can of pasta sauce 
  4. Box of Mac and Cheese
  5. Can of chicken noodle soup
  6. Box of cereal
  7. Jar of peanut butter
  8. Jar of jelly
  9. Box of granola bars
  10. Can of fruit
  11. Can of tuna
  12. Can of beans 

These 12 items make up a family pack sent home with students on Fridays to feed their hungry family over the weekend. The pack is apart of the local food bank's campus cupboard program. 

“We put 10 lbs in of food for a family of four. If we have bigger families, we put in a little extra," said Heather Cline, Riverside USD 114 school counselor. 

Riverside USD 114, a small school district in Elwood and Wathena has heavily relied on this new food assistance program this year. 

“We’re helping about 50. Regularly 50, but it’s going up as the holidays are approaching,” said Cline. 

50 families relying on the campus cupboard program every week, at least. School counselors said the COVID-19 pandemic is hurting families in the district from all backgrounds, occupations and races. 

“We’re seeing every type of family needing help. Due to layoffs, lost jobs, family illnesses, death in the family. We’re in a pandemic and hard times don’t discriminate against anybody,” said Cline. 

Cline has taken some tearful phone calls this year. Families calling and breaking down, admitting they can't afford to feed their family and they need help. 

“It is a very sensitive topic. It is hard to say, ‘Hey, I need assistance for food.’ Kids will tell us and come up to us in private. Here at Riverside we are a school family. We care and we say that and we’re showing that,” said Cline. 

Second Harvest said donating food to hungry families this season is the best gift you could give,“It’s one of those things that you are directly helping kids and their parents. Because where there is a hungry kid, there is likely a hungry parent as well,” said Ryser. 

16 of Second Harvest's 19 counties in their service area have the campus cupboard program. 

To donate, visit Second Harvest Food Bank or local grocery stores and look for the blue barrels. 

For Riverside USD 114 families needing help, call 785-989-4425 or email 

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