Rotary needs help feeding children

The Rotary Club of Oak Harbor is asking for community support to help feed kids during the weekends.

The Rotary Club of Oak Harbor is asking for community support to help feed kids during the weekends amid rising food costs and increased demand.

Every Thursday, club members put together bags of food containing quick and easy meals and snacks that are then delivered to all of the district’s five elementary schools. The next day, schools distribute the bags of food to about 200 elementary school students that the counselors have identified as experiencing food insecurity.

Each bag contains about 10 items, which can include canned soups, protein bars, mac ‘n cheese, juice pouches, hot chocolate, instant oatmeal and granola bars — foods that can supplement what families can provide at home during the weekends.

Ever since the volunteer-run program came to be in 2014, the club has funded the endeavor by selling fireworks and by hosting a dinner around St. Patrick’s Day, according to Public Relations Manager Reid Schwartz. Community members like Jersey Mike’s Subs have also donated gift certificates to be included in the bags, while Family Bible Church has helped with transportation and buying food.

However, with the rising cost of food and increased demand, the Rotary Club is expecting to spend $15,000 more than the originally budgeted $40,000, according to board member Ken Hulett, who has been leading the Food4Kids Backpack Program with his wife Terri for the past three years.

In a year, Hulett said, the number of kids served grew from about 150 to 200, with Crescent Harbor Elementary having the most students in need of this support.

According to Assistant Superintendent Dwight Lundstrom, the program makes sure kids know the schools care about their well-being.

Olympic View Elementary Principal Sara Lucero said that though there isn’t any data showing the correlation between academic performance, social skills and nutrition, anecdotal evidence suggests that “students who are fed better, do better.”

She acknowledged that food insecurity can cause a great deal of stress in families and children, and many caretakers rely on the program to feed their kids.

She also believes that some families in need have moved into the city in order to qualify.

Community members interested in donating can mail a check to the Rotary Club of Oak Harbor, PO Box 442, or visit