Beginning Wednesday, Yumans can stop by one of Crane School District’s grab-and-go meal sites to pick up a free box of produce and gallon of milk, thanks to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
Announced April 17 by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, this immediate relief program provides critical support to farmers and ranchers by allowing for the “purchase and distribution of (their) agricultural abundance,” per the U.S. Department of Agriculture, while maintaining the integrity of the food supply chain and ensuring individuals and families have immediate access to produce, meat and dairy products during this time.
Through “distribution hubs,” suppliers put these items in the hands of local organizations, who then place them in the hands (or in this case the vehicles in the grab-and-go line) of those who need them.
“It’s increasing their workload, so they’re able to put additional people to work to bring us that produce and stock it for us here at our schools so we can then give it out,” said Michael Clark, nutrition director for Crane School District. “That’s an additional benefit — the fact that they now have enough work to put people back to work.”
According to Clark, Crane’s are the first hubs in Yuma County and the state of Arizona.
“We have an initiative that I’ve been trying to instill within our department and within Crane, and that is the idea of ‘Yuma’s Table,’ that everybody’s welcome at our table,” Clark said. “We don’t want people to not eat when there’s food to be had. So if we can help be that resource for people, we want to make sure we’re providing it. Elementary schools are the central hub of a neighborhood, most often — they’re right there, and families with younger children gravitate to those places. So if you have a need, come get a box.”
The produce boxes are available for pick-up between 9:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. every weekday at any Crane grab-and-go location. One box is available per family per day until supplies run out for the week.
The plan, Clark said, is to continue restocking and distributing the supply for as long as the resources will carry, making adjustments as needed. And, as availability adjusts and increases, so will the variety of items.
“We expect to do this through most of the summer,” Clark said. “It will be our intention to grow it to the point where we find the balance of what people need or can take and what we can hold. We’ve never done anything like this before so nobody knows how it’s going to turn out, and we’re willing to experiment. Rather than say, ‘That seems like a lot of work,’ we’re taking the stance of ‘It’s going to be worth it.’”
For updates on produce box availability and other particulars, visit facebook.com/craneschools.