WINSTON — Grilled cheese sandwiches, rice and a pint of milk was a welcome dietary change of pace for Jack and Christian Perron on Wednesday.
The fifth graders at McGovern Elementary fully admitted they’d chowed down on pop tarts, junk food and cowboy beans — a simple combination of baked beans mixed with bacon — during the past three days the school has been closed thanks to the snowstorms that buried Douglas County and much of western Oregon. They got a better meal thanks, in part, to the Oregon Department of Education.
The end result was hot lunches in Myrtle Creek and Winston for kids who, like Jack and Christian, didn’t have access to power or heat or a functional stove or microwave when electricity went down. That was the case for most local residents on Sunday night.
“Yeah, it was nice to have something a little different,” Christian said.
Wednesday’s distributions to students came in the wake of the blizzard-like conditions that forced a week-long closure of most of the county’s schools. Kyle Micken, a Sodexo employee who managed nutritional services for most of Douglas County’s schools, figured it would be a good idea to get meals out to school-aged kids after the second day of school closures came on Tuesday.
“When the weather got bad and it didn’t look like it was going to get any better, that’s when I figured we should probably do something,” he said.
Micken, who said Wednesday’s turnout of close to two-dozen students was similar to what comes during the food program in the summer time, also was told by the Oregon Department of Education that the cost of each meal would be reimbursed by the state government. He said it’s part of a fund the state taps into for emergency situations — with an open checkbook of sorts.
“It doesn’t matter if there’s three kids or 3,000,” Micken said. “They can even go back for seconds.”
He said the program will continue through the remainder of the week since schools in the Winston-Dillard School District will remain closed for the rest of the week. They’ll continue at McGovern from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Micken said they’ll likely have a second setup in Riddle through the end of the week.