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MailTribune.com
  • There IS a free lunch

    Roosevelt school and the Medford First Church of the Nazarine make sure that needy kids go home with lunches for the holiday
  • With 84 percent of students at Roosevelt Elementary School qualified for free or reduced-price lunches, it's clear why members of Medford First Church of the Nazarene saw a need to send kids home over winter break with bags of lunch food.
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  • With 84 percent of students at Roosevelt Elementary School qualified for free or reduced-price lunches, it's clear why members of Medford First Church of the Nazarene saw a need to send kids home over winter break with bags of lunch food.
    "Otherwise, a lot of these kids aren't going to get lunches during the break," said Karen Greene, a church member and liaison for the school-church "business only" partnership.
    "We're making up 400 bags, and we'll send every kid at the school home with one," Greene said.
    Roosevelt Principal Kimberly Miles said because there is such a high percentage of her students on free or reduced-price lunches, the entire school population of about 400 receives free breakfasts and lunches every day — but only when they're at school.
    "We are a high-poverty school, and have a lot of students that need these resources," Miles said. "It's just a great opportunity for us to be able to make sure that they are getting the resources they need to be getting fed."
    Thursday, first-grade Roosevelt student Andrew Espinosa, 6, was at the church helping pack a share of the 400 bags, which he and his peers will receive before leaving school today.
    "Just here helping people and stuff," Andrew said.
    Following the inception of the church-school partnership five years ago, the lunch bag program began at the church last year, and the plan is to continue it in coming years, Greene said.
    Although Andrew couldn't remember doing it, he helped pack free lunch bags last year, too, said his mom, Amanda Long, 31, of Medford.
    "I know what this means to the students at the school. I don't think the Naz fully understands what an impact it is making," said Long, a member of the Parent-Teacher Organization at Roosevelt and a classroom volunteer.
    Long packs Andrew's lunches almost every day, she said, and her son most likely will be giving his bulky lunch bag away to another student tomorrow.
    All of the reusable shopping bags were donated by Albertsons, Greene said.
    The church starts collecting food donations for the lunch-bag giveaway in November, but also footed a $2,000 grocery bill at WinCo Foods to top off the bags, Greene said.
    About 20 people, mostly church members and Roosevelt teachers, parents and students, were at the church stuffing the 400 bags with loaves of bread, pasta, cake, Pop-Tarts, cereal, soups, jam and pudding, among other items.
    "I am just here to help," said church member Starlene Collins, 58, of Medford, adding Roosevelt students return the favor every year by donating money to the church, which it delivers to schoolchildren in rural Haiti.
    Last year, Roosevelt students collected pennies and raised about $5,800 for 94 children attending a rural school in Lastic, Haiti, Collins said.
    "It's a great way for these kids to see that they are making a difference in another kid's life," she said.
    According to Roosevelt's website, students raised about $30,000 in 2011 for well-drilling efforts in the county.
    "I am just so excited about our business partnership with the Naz," Miles said. "You can see the difference it's making."
    Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-776-4471 or swheeler@mailtribune.com. Follow him at twitter.com/MTwriter_swhlr.
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