A powerful parent-teacher coalition, known as West Clermont United (WCU), initially came to be as the result of ‘one more failed levy,’ says Tammy Brinkman, school board member. “There were positive changes happening within the district, but there was disconnect with the community,” she says. “The levy failure was the catalyst for parents, teachers and staff to join together and develop WCU. We decided to take it upon ourselves to get the information that the public needed, ask the tough questions and share ALL the results.”
With a mission to ‘restore, protect and educate,’ the WCU organizes a variety of fundraisers and special events throughout the school year, all with a focus on supporting the students and families of the West Clermont school district. One of their projects is supporting Cincy Kids 4 Kids (‘a local group of concerned families focused on fundraising to support their neighbors’) with the West Clermont summer food distribution initiative.
“Nearly 50 percent of the students in our district qualify for the Free/Reduced Lunch program,” says Tammy. “And many students typically eat 2 of their 3 daily meals at school which unfortunately means that the summer break is very difficult on the food budget for many of our families. The summer food distribution not only helps our families who are struggling, but it is helping to build a sense of community pride that we haven’t seen here in quite some time.”
In partnership with the Freestore Foodbank, Cincy Kids 4 Kids secures the distribution site as well as purchased supplemental food and organized additional donated household items. “WCU helps us coordinate all the items, as well as contact the families,” says Missy Pfeffer-Bastin, co-founder of Cincy Kids 4 Kids. “They are always there to support anything we do in this community.”
On this particular Friday afternoon in July, WCU and Cincy Kids 4 Kids, in partnership with the Freestore Foodbank, have joined together to sponsor a summer food distribution for eligible families of children in their district.
Distributions are planned for this district once a month throughout the summer at Clough Elementary; today, 156 registered families are expected. The box includes canned and dry goods and all the ingredients needed to make several complete hot meals for the entire family. “We choose a recipe based on what items the Freestore Foodbank has available at the time,” says Missy. “We supplement whatever else is still needed.” Today, the cans of chicken, mixed vegetables, and cream of chicken soup along with a bag of egg noodles inspired a Chicken Bake casserole.
The Freestore Foodbank is also working with Cincy Kids 4 Kids on establishing a permanent pantry that would be open year-round to serve the entire district. “Our vision is to partner with the Freestore Foodbank to have a dedicated area for our food pantry in the new West Clermont High School (merging Glen Este and Amelia) being built,” says Missy.
Stay tuned for more information on that developing program in the fall!