USDA food distribution from 6-23-2020

Herm Leitz, left, and Rick Ketter place food in the back of a vehicle during the June 23 USDA distribution.

Individuals and families seeking a little help with meals over the coming months will have some new and changing opportunities to receive free food.

The USDA is offering several new opportunities to receive a free box of food.

Meanwhile, the Ripon Area School District (RASD) is changing how it is offering its meal pick-up program.

Thus far, the RASD has offered daily pick-up opportunities for meals at Ripon Middle School/High School essentially every weekday.

The frequency of those pick-ups, though not the amount of food, is going to change.

According to a note sent to district families Tuesday, “The distribution process for the Free Summer Meals Program is changing effective Monday, July 6. Meal kits containing five breakfast meals and five lunch meals will be packaged for a once a week distribution or delivery.  The first weekly distribution will take place on Monday, July 6.”

As in the past, meal kits will be distributed curbside by the middle school side of the building.

“Staff members will be ready to hand out the food kits each Monday for the months of July and August from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m while supplies last,” the note read. “The meal kits are free to anyone 18 years old and younger. Children receiving these meals are not required to be RASD students.”

Delivery also continues to be available for those who cannot come to the school; an online form may be filled out to participate.

Individuals with questions regarding the program are being directed to contact either Britnie Meyer (email meyerb@ripon.k12.wi.us or call 748-4600) with the Ripon Area School District or Briony Storz (email storzb@ripon.k12.wi.us or call 748-4603) with A’viands Food & Management.

The USDA also plans to return to Ripon High School in July and August to provide free boxes of food, as it did twice in June.

Distribution will occur every other Monday: July 6 and 20; Aug. 3, 17 and 31 from 9 to 11 a.m.

The food is being offered through the “Farmers to Family Food Box” program, in which anyone, regardless of income, may receive one box of food.

Locally, it’s been partnering with Traded Treasures Thrift Store and Community Food Pantry for the distribution.

Participation in the Farmers to Family Food Box program was strong during both the June events.

At the first one, vehicles lined up nearly a half-mile long to receive a box. By the second, a new system was devised that enabled volunteers from Traded Treasures to quickly place boxes in vehicles without the lengthy line.

Ian Stepleton is the editor of the Ripon Commonwealth Press, and been with the paper since September 2000. Starting with fall 2016, he also is an adjunct professor of journalism at Ripon College, and advisor to the college's newspaper, the College Days.

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