School staff across the state awoke on Friday, March 13, to news that schools would close to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Along with her coworkers, Jillian Sederburg, a special education assistant at Otto Petersen Elementary, set to work gathering food to distribute to students for the unexpected closure.
At Otto Petersen, 29% of students, or close to 150 students, receive free or reduced lunch. On the weekends, some of those students are sent home with bags of food to provide nutrition while students are away from school breakfasts and lunches.
Sederburg headed to Grocery Outlet while a coworker headed to Fred Meyer. Sederburg said she was spending her own money to stock up on food for the children when she struck up a conversation with a man who turned out to be the owner of Grocery Outlet, Bob Barnard.
Sederburg checked out and was loading up her car when the owner came out and gave her a gift card.
With that gift card, school staff stocked up on more food, including spaghetti sauce, noodles, and canned fruits and vegetables. They went over the amount of the gift card, Sederburg said, but an assistant manager chipped in and covered almost the full remainder.
"It was kind of a whirlwind," Sederburg said.
School staff put together 30 bags, and even more students were able to grab a few items.
"We were actually seeking kids out by emailing teachers. When I was delivering some of the food, some of the teachers were sending kids home with food they had in the class," Sederburg added.
"It was a huge team effort to get it all together."
"I thought it was amazing to see how much the teachers cared," she added. Sederburg also wanted to remind children and families to take advantage of the free lunches and breakfasts being provided by the school district.
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